I wrote this in May of 2020 at the beginning of what has turned out to be almost 12 months of dealing with the pandemic caused by Covid-19. At the time we were in strict lock-downs in California. I didn’t publish it and just reread it in my draft post folder. I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it. Maybe because we were all dealing with way too much at the time, and it’s not in keeping with the usual style of my blog. But reading it now I realize that I still have many of the same thoughts, feelings and hope for the future. Now that the vaccine roll out has started I pray that we remember some of the lessons learned over the past year.
“Times of scarcity need to be met with generosity, times of fear with comfort, times of uncertainty with presence. When we care for those around us, we create a field of love.”
Hello out there. How are you doing? We are now in the 7th week of California’s shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements. I am feeling, as I am sure you are as well, a little stir crazy. I miss my friends and our easy social gatherings. I miss the company and passion of my fellow gardeners. The remainder of our current County Master Gardener class, of which I am one of the hosts, is on Zoom. It’s not the same. I miss volunteering at the Botanical Gardens. I miss my bookclubs. I miss cooking for friends and our impromptu dinners. I know it has been even more difficult for many of you who are trying to balance work, children, home schooling, meals, and some space for yourself.
Maybe you are not missing commuting, or traffic, or the hectic round of activities that fill your days and those of your children. I hope you are finding new passions and avenues to express yourself.
What do you think back to normal will look like? What are you going to do when things open up a little? I am not sure I will return to a ‘normal’ (meaning the way things were) way of life before a vaccine is available. I won’t feel comfortable going to movies or restaurants or large gatherings. Here in Fort Bragg our ‘normal’ summer events have all been cancelled. There will be no film festival or music festival this year, the theater company cancelled the rest of the season, I doubt we will hold the regular 4th of July celebration… it goes on and on. A disaster for a small coastal town that depends on tourism.
When this is all over, the world and my community will not look the same. Maybe we should spend some time considering what we want to keep and what we should drop. It’s time for a reset.
Here are some things I hope will be part of the new normal.
The new normal may contain a greater sense of community. See this happy tear jerking article about a wedding in Washington Square. If that type of thing continues, our lives will be enriched. None of us stand alone.
Maybe the new normal will have a different attitude towards health care. Would you want the person standing next to you in the grocery store, or the wait person serving you at a restaurant to be without healthcare because they couldn’t afford it? Would you want them to be out and about because they had to be, even though they might be sick? Because they couldn’t afford to see a Dr. or they couldn’t afford to get a flu shot? This is only the first global pandemic, there very well could be more.
While I am on healthcare, maybe medical school could be less expensive. We don’t have enough internists or GPs because students need the extra income from specialties to repay loans. Maybe tuition could be forgiven if a Dr. will spend time in a small rural hospital. Rural communities have problems recruiting physicians because they can’t pay enough to cover their medical school costs. These folks are our heroes. They shouldn’t spend a good part of their lives in debt.
Maybe the new normal will bring a new appreciation for our teachers. Those of you home schooling right now are realizing how difficult a job it is.
Maybe the new normal will mean universal affordable access to broadband and the internet. This is a subject I feel strongly about, I even wrote a letter to the NY Times, a personal first. The major cable companies have ignored rural or low income communities and our government has done nothing to help; it’s criminal. If you don’t have internet because it isn’t available in your area, or the internet speed is inadequate, or it’s too expensive for your income, you are out of luck. The kids can’t access school, you can’t work remotely, Zoom conferences aren’t possible, no streaming Netflix, and forget about having virtual cocktail parties with friends. Even reading the news is difficult because many newspapers don’t deliver anymore, and you can’t read them on line. Which means you aren’t educated and you can’t be part of your larger community or the world.
My new normal will contain a large dose of gratitude and appreciation. Gratitude that we are still here and appreciation for many things we took for granted.
What about you?