Remembering What's Important as We Wake Up From COVID
It’s hard for me to accept that just five months ago, it seemed like it could be another year before we saw any resemblance of normalcy. I thought it might be months before I was able to get my vaccine. I had no idea if I should start making plans for the fall or just wait and see.
Now it’s been nearly three months since I was fully vaccinated, I've flow across the country to visit my family for the first time in 18 months, and Andrew and I are planning our wedding for this October (yay!).
As each week goes by, COVID seems like one of those strange dreams that seem so real and yet as the day goes on it gets fuzzier and less detailed by the minute.
One thing I do remember about the pandemic is all the soul searching that people were doing. As a life coach, I might have observed more of this than the average person, but it seemed to be prolific in conversations and social media.
Most people, myself included, were forced to do some serious self-reflecting. Time away from friends had us rethinking who we want to keep in our life and who we want to let go of. We picked up new habits and hobbies like weekly Zoom meetings with family or baking sour dough. (I still don’t understand this craze.) Some of us incorporated activities and practices into our life that we never would have considered before the pandemic.
Reflecting back on all you have tried and explored, what are you going to stick with, and what are you going to shed? Put more bluntly, what true changes have you made in your life and what were just distractions or placeholders until you had better options?
No judgement. It makes no difference to me. Just be honest with yourself. Did you really love the convenience of Zoom, or were you just rationalizing and coping with your loneliness? Were you making lemonade out of lemons when you picked up your old knitting projects? Or did you honestly rediscover how much you appreciate the contemplative sounds of your needles clicking in a quiet room?
In March 2020, when we were ordered to stay home except for necessary trips, I returned to making hardy home-made meals. I was excited to be saving so much money, and it was a nice treat to have dinner with my sweetheart every evening.
Then as the weeks went on and on, I remembered how much I loved cooking a meal and sharing it with someone else. I wasn’t just making pasta tossed with whatever was in the fridge. I was baking and roasting and using spices. I was spending more time on each dish. I also began to embrace our time together at the dinner table. We later incorporated a “three things” routine where we share three things we’re grateful for that day.
What started as a new necessity evolved into an important part of our day that I couldn’t imagine giving up, until... we suddenly had other options.
I got home a few nights ago after an annoying day that started with a dead car battery and went downhill from there. I asked Andrew what we should have for dinner, and he replied there’s an open mic night at a local restaurant. “Should we just grab dinner there?”
And so it begins. It’s easy to embrace the new when you are given nothing else to compare it to. When convenience and short cuts present themselves, how attached are you really to your values and purpose?
On a larger scale I’m thinking about systemic problems that came into stark relief during the pandemic, but has quickly receded from the news cycle. For instance, I remember a New York Times article that quoted a father new to home schooling who said teachers should be paid like CEOs. Does he still think teachers are underpaid? Is he willing to call his state representative to lobby for increase pay and better working conditions for teachers?
Public health systems proved to be devastatingly underfunded and understaffed. Who other than public health officials are advocating that we continue to pour taxes dollars into our local health departments to ensure we have the resources to manage the next crisis? Did we mean it? Or are we realizing everything worked out fine and we can forget about that for now?
Like me, you probably aren’t equipped to take on large systemic problems, but you can take a hard look at your own life and assess how well you are walking the walk.
What changes did you embrace? Did you really embrace them? Now that the world has opened, are you holding on to them?