Pundits and journalists around the world continue to wax prophetic about the innumerable ways our world has changed during this pandemic. They point out the obvious and the nuanced, the banal and the thought-provoking. The concrete and the ephemeral.
How the world will be after the health crisis–and how and when ‘after’ will occur–are two great variables that no one can really define or schedule. ‘After’ implies that there is a resolution–a medical treatment or vaccine, or simply a slow reduction in the life-threatening number of cases through social distancing and hygiene.
My prediction: the discovery of one and the discipline of the other, over a two year period, with waves of re-infection in areas of the globe who fall short in the application of either the medicine or the discipline.
No one really knows what the world will look like in 6 months. We do, however, know what it looks like now.
Trips to that already endangered species, the shopping mall, are almost a distant memory. Sporting events, weddings, funerals, recitals, graduations…Hasta la vista for the foreseeable future.
The economy in general, of course, is down but not out. The hospitality industry in particular, code red. Biotech may boom. But everyday life, when it returns, will be in physical therapy for a long, long time, with many of us relearning how to do the fundamentals without certain muscles, namely the ability to gather in groups and the confidence to, literally, breathe easy. Working from home and online meetings will be the smallest adjustments.
All this we know. These disruptions are easy to observe, calculate, quantify. Isolation. Restrictions. Infection rates. Percentages of unemployed. The dollar amount of bail-out packages.
What’s not so easy to articulate is that emotion creeping up in the back of our minds–or the bottom of our hearts. It is grief. Sadness for the loss of a way of life that now seems permanently gone.
(Perhaps everything will be ‘back to normal’ sooner than most people think. A cure, a vaccine, a treatment that minimizes symptoms of the virus…all are possible and probable in a year or 18 months. But in the meantime, we are left with this reality.)
If we can see this change as a loss, and accept it, then we can begin to move forward, not to the New, but to the Old.
I’ll write more about that forward movement in the next post. Until then, be safe, be well, and be patient.