Being socially distant for a natural extrovert is challenging and just plain weird. The rational side of the brain understands the dynamics of transmission and realizes well that stopping contact stops the spread. Done. We don’t leave our home. The other side of my brain is left wondering where my village went?
I miss people. Don’t get me wrong, my 3 most favorite people in the world are stuck inside my house with me and although we are making the best of family time, I am sure they are just as happy to see other people when this is over. Add to the fact that we have a new puppy, and we are not running short on “quality family time.”
What I am lacking is the natural desire to form and maintain social bonds outside of my abode. I miss being at work, shopping for groceries knowing they will be there, not worrying about the amount of toilet paper in my pantry, and not having to sanitize my mailbox or Amazon packages. I miss gathering with friends and family every weekend. In my world, having a meal with a great big bunch of people is as natural as breathing.
Life was simpler when I could talk to people in the grocery store while touching my face. I know that is a strange sentence but it sums up for me the absurdity, stress, and fear involved with living through a pandemic. I remember so well listening to my amazing Grandmother, of blessed memory, tell me what is what like living through the Influenza pandemic of 1918, the very one that took her mother from her (and subsequently gave my mother her name). She would tell me that she would wake up every morning and not know what to expect. She would look outside her front door to see which neighbors would be lined up, in their casket, on their porch. She explained to me that they would stay that way for days because grave diggers stopped working out of fear of contracting the flu from the dead. My grandmother survived the pandemic and grew to be an amazing matriarch of our ever-expanding family. However, her life was never the same after and I am left wondering what our lives will be like when we succeed in conquering COVID-19.
We will come out of isolation. We will begin our social existence again. Work, outside of our homes, will resume. Children, including my own, will go back to school. Even my puppy will get to play with her best puppy friend again. Life will go on. However, it will be forever changed. Living in a post-Covid-19 world is going to be different and quite frankly, it has to be. It would be a grave mistake to think waking up from this nightmare will be going back to the way it always was. No, in this instance, it will be like Dorothy taking her first steps into Oz, where nothing is as it once was.
Life in a post epidemic world will be ripe with the opportunity to learn, grow, rebuild, and live more deliberately (a phrase I have loved ever since reading Thoreau in the ’80s.). I am as uncertain as what this will look like as most of you are. But what I suggest we start thinking about is what kind of post-Covid-19 legacy do we want to leave our grandchildren? One day, I want to sit and talk with my granddaughter about what it was like living through a pandemic. I want her to impart any knowledge gained with her granddaughter. I want to be able to contribute to our post-Covid-19 society with as much compassion, understanding, and strength as I can. What will you do to ensure our societal growth?