In the beginning stages of the 2020 pandemic, back when covid-19 was still coronavirus the general approach was to stay inside, wash your hands, and “we’re all in this together.” The impression I got was that the virus was more dangerous for the elderly & also people with compromised immunities. People were directed to work from home and schools, restaurants, and general establishments were temporarily closed…
Society is more adaptable than each of us would like admit. Most people will say they like their routine and don’t like change, but when this change came in the form of not having to get out of pajamas to go to work while binge watching netflix, there wasn’t much resistance. A couple weeks turned to a few, that turned into months. Families started doing family things as the weather changed and the hustle & bustle of lifestyles before the pandemic came to almost a screeching halt.
We can recognize some silver linings that came from this but not as equally as the hardships. Generally, people had to redesign their way of life. Students, teachers, parents, employees, employers. Things are different for us all. Going out in public became the set of a science-fiction movie. “The new normal” they say…
It really hit home with me a few weeks ago when I was having a discussion with a client who happens to be a family practitioner. He was very as a matter of fact, like most doctors are, and he simply stated that this is not going away and that we just need to learn to live with. He also threw in that this will change the way someone in their 80’s live the rest of their lives. At first, that went in one ear and out the other.
When I start a project, I become deeply focused on that project. Time doesn’t really mean much to me. I find myself working hour after hour putting off personal time and a proper eating schedule. For a couple of weeks my life consists of spending most of my time in the shop. My social life is nil, and if I have left over energy, I may ride my bicycle or go to the gym. As the project progresses and I can see completion in the near distance, the one thing I like to do is stop for a beer treating myself on the 13th hour of the day.
Some friends have said this could be misconstrued as pathetic, but for me, it was my moment to take the time I need to reflect on my job, myself, and all of the things I can appreciate in my life. Fortunately, I have a thriving social life that enables my choice to be alone just that, a choice. I’ve realized that while you sit alone, people don’t tend to leave you alone, they like to chat. While I don’t struggle with loneliness, this routine helped gain empathy for someone who does.
Since coronavirus, I have not been working that type of schedule. I also have been taking a more balanced approach in my life now that I am sharing it with someone near and dear to me. With my busy season underway, there will certainly come with it, elected longer days. There will probably be evenings where I want to stop and have that beer but I won’t. The days of walking into a bar and climbing onto a barstool to catch a game on TV are over. Placed to your left and your right are dividers made of plexiglass. There will be no random conversations with strangers about sports or where they are from.
Fortunately, my life during the pandemic hasn’t changed much. If anything, it’s gotten better. I’ve built stronger relationships with family and friends and business has been going very well. There isn’t much to do outside of work so the fact that my number one hobby is riding my bicycle, makes it completely acceptable to do it very often. There is a huge part of me that takes a moment to realize there are so many people struggling right now because the current procedures have completely eliminated their only means of having any social interaction whatsoever.
My father, before he passed away, would have breakfast with his friends every Tuesday morning. My mom would tell me he would wake up extra early that morning with anticipation. He did this for years. One by one, his friends were passing away until he was down to just one friend that could meet him and eventually he passed away as well.
There’s a connectiveness between people that maintains an energy, even between strangers. They say that 75% of people who set out to hike the Appalachian trail give up. They do so, not because it’s too physically demanding but because they become too lonely. Not being around other people severs the conduit that pipes to them, that energy, so when there is nothing or nobody to live for, you give up.
This is a part of the pandemic that is probably most overlooked because the people that are responsible for making the guidelines are not concerned with keeping people as happy as they are safe. When does the acknowledgment that it is as important for someone to be as safe mentally as it is physically? Will our unified heart just eventually quit beating?