• Karen

Redefining Normal

The coronavirus pandemic has been brutally painful. Many families have suffered loss, and are grieving. Others are working on the front lines under incredible stress. The rest of us, stuck in our homes, longingly ponder the way things used to be, and fantasize about our #oldnormal.

Yet, we cannot go back to “the way it was” because that world does not exist anymore. And we know this on some level, whether it’s the lesson of Lot’s wife, Orpheus’ wife, or Miss Havisham, stories and story tellers have been reminding us for eons that we must look forward.

True, there may be some glitches and snags along the way to developing our #newnormal, but there are lots of bits and pieces we can happily leave in the dust of this pandemic, as we construct our post Covid-19 world. We must also embrace the new habits, lifestyle adjustments, and realities that will actually make our lives better.

For too long the essential workers who do the daily, often back-breaking, work of making modern civilization…well, civilized…have gone unappreciated and underpaid. Many professionals were able to seclude themselves in home offices and keep working because they had groceries, medications, and meals delivered to the door. In another part of the economy, nothing shows the reality of what educators do than parents being thrust into home-schooling with little warning.

Technology has been a saving grace for many of us. However, the #oldnormal of unequal access became glaring as schools, colleges, and businesses realized many did not have the technology to attend class or work from home. With coffee shops and other public locations shut down, some colleges created makeshift wifi hotspots. We must demand better for our #newnormal in terms of access and affordability for the technology everyone needs in the modern world.

Covid-19 has not been an equal opportunity killer. Minority communities have been hit especially hard, and it is long past time to address the health divide in society. The same human race that can travel through space, desalinate water, and turn sunlight into electricity can surely do something about access to basic health care and healthy food. The #oldnormal here is nothing to be nostalgic for—we need to put some of our pent up energy and resources into making simple health maintenance easy for everyone.

All forms of shopping are different, and many are contemplating the wisdom of well-stocked pantries or home-grown food. Family time is different, and being isolated with the family/roommates you had when the pandemic hit can force some serious reflection on your relationships. Finances are different. Millions have lost their jobs, and if they were among the approximately 50% of the population in North American without an emergency fund of more than $400, they are hurting. Our systems, which have made a few amazingly wealthy, are failing many who cannot pay rent or routine bills, or get enough food on the table.

Take some time to think about what parts of the “good old days” aren’t really worth saving. Or flip it around and ponder what new lifestyle changes you’d want to keep. What’s your #newnormal going to look like?



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(c) 2019 Karen Southall Watts