Last night was my first dinner out with friends in a long time. It was everything I expected it to be: fun, delicious, and nostalgic. It was also surreal, like we weren’t supposed to be there together, mask-less and within arm’s length. As we sipped our cocktails and shared updates on what’s going on in our respective lives, I couldn’t help but realize that this little reunion marked the end of an isolating existence and the beginning of a staggered return to pre-pandemic routines. The thought of it sort of scared me.
Surprisingly, none of us expressed any eagerness to going back 100% to the way things were before. The line seems to have been drawn and may be even blurry. Have we settled into a new comfort zone? Do we want to get back to normal again? What does “normal” mean anyway?
Working from home and not having to commute in traffic has been the biggest plus. So the sheer thought of giving that up is, shall we say, not very enticing. I don’t need to be around people to get the job done nor do I miss the social aspects. Yes, it would be nice to grab lunch with a colleague from time to time or to chit chat at the coffee machine but given a choice, weekly call meetings suit me just fine.
The requirement to show a vaccine passport in restaurants doesn’t faze me either nor do the mask mandates. If these allow us to function as members of society and to regain some measure of sanity in an otherwise crazed world, I am all for it and will do so without any hesitancy. It is to me as natural as breathing and I am guessing, will be part of our day-to-day living for still quite some time. We are not out of the woods yet.
Maybe the normality we all think we crave is really more of a beacon to bigger and better things: enjoying family time because we are home longer than we have ever been ; seeking out those hobbies that were always so elusive because we couldn’t find the energy or the desire ; less spending in some areas so that you can save for that trip or course or you always wanted to take ; renovating, building, improving your home; and most importantly, taking care of you!
Our current situation only highlights the rut we were stuck in a year a half ago and that change is scary. If we temper that with a more open-minded view and an appreciation of what is important to us, around us, the normal we are returning to can be more meaningful, less boring and as amazing as we want it to be.
So when the dust settles eventually, let’s retire the term “New Normal” and call it the “New and Improved Normal” instead, and build on that!