I was on a Zoom call last night with some friends, and a shift has occurred. After months and months of attending our Monday night check-in, people are exhausted and invigorated from being out and about among friends. The energy was different, and it was obvious that the curtain has been lifted on “normal” life again. Each of us has been tiptoeing out to see friends that we haven’t seen in a awhile and spending time doing things that seemed crazy not too long ago. I first want to say thank you to the miracle of vaccines so that those of us who want to remain healthy don’t have to worry about a killer disease racing through us.
In my circle at least eight people have died of COVID-19 or have had a parent or close friend die of this dastardly disease. I feel a great sadness at the loss of life that has happened over the past year and the loss of life that is still happening in places like India. As I walk through small towns in Michigan, there are many empty storefronts, and I think we will find similar gaping holes in people’s lives and hearts. Anxiety and depression have increased, addictions have worsened, suicides and overdoses soared and grief perforates us. We will not be emerging into the same world. For the most part we are wounded, but as is true in most catastrophes, we will learn and be better.
I had my second vaccine dose two weeks ago today. I feel relieved. I still wear my mask for others who have not been vaccinated and to participate willingly in solving a societal problem. Going back to work increases the feeling that life is back to normal. It will take a minute to get used to the routine, but I’m not sure I want to go back to what I thought was normal last year. I’ve had over a year to sit in my life and re-evaluate where I want to spend my money and time and with whom I’d like to spend it. Life is short. Good health is a game-changer. Love is fragile. I’ve learned a lot in during my COVID education.
I’m not entirely sure how I’d like to re-emerge during this time, but I know that I don’t want to just slingshot myself back into the same routine I left. I really want to change my reliance on eating out. For one thing, restaurants are wounded, too. They are stretched with short staff and a surge of people hellbent on getting out and about and feeling normal. Prior to COVID, I spent too much money on restaurant food and then had to spend a ridiculous amount of time and effort working out to counterbalance the calories or beating myself up for eating too much. I’m eating mostly plant-based now, and it’s really hard to get an enjoyable meal in a restaurant that is plant-based. I feel much better eating this way, and I’d rather spend my money on travel or things that last. There’s nothing wrong in meeting over a really good coffee or for a walk, and I feel much better afterwards.
I also want to be choosy about how I spend my time. In just the last few days as I went back to work, I realize the value of the few hours that bookend a work day. I want to take care of myself, and I want to be rested. That requires a little effort and regular sleep. I want to invest in the relationships that matter most to me and let go of the ones that are mere convenience. Some of those friends are located across the country, and I don’t have to spend a dime to jump on a Zoom call. I’d like to invest some of my saved time and money to visit them in person when restrictions and safety allow.
Of course there’s nothing that has supported me more during the last year than being outdoors and enjoying Mother Earth. I want to continue indulging in those activities and maybe increase my involvement on the weekends. In my new role at work, I can introduce others to nature and teach them some of the things that were taught to me. There’s nothing more beautiful than waking up in the morning to a chorus of birdsong and sipping coffee fireside in the middle of the woods. Ahhhhh… I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.
I’m sure my new life will gradually build, and I’m curious as to what it will look like in a year. But I want to be conscious about what I add to the mix. I have a clean slate right now and can build as quickly or as slowly as I like. I think I’ll re-emerge slowly and with great caution. My life is important to me, and I want the next decade to be filled chock-full of things that are meaningful and life-sustaining. I feel great sadness and grief over what we have lost during this time, but I also want to honor what I have learned.
How will your re-emerge differently? What will you keep?