I am grateful for this pandemic. There. I said it. The one thing I never thought I’d hear myself say. For one thing, it has shown how truly fragile life is, just in case you didn’t already hear “life is short” a million times while growing up. For another, it has forced many of us to slow down, stop, and deeply analyze our lives. From. Every. Angle. It’s kind of like taking a good selfie. Kind of. There are big questions to ponder like who are my real friends? Am I doing what I really love or could I work towards doing something I truly love even more? But I think the biggest one is what happens after I go? Knowing that there is a possibility that your life may end sooner than you would like or thought forces you to think about what happens after you’re gone from this world. For some that brings joy and for others that thought is scary. Let’s not focus on that for a second though. Let’s focus on the living moment. You know how when you drink water you are helping your body eliminate toxins? I feel like this pandemic helped me to detox my life. I have thought about the kind of friend I want to be and the kind of friend I want to keep. As a result I have cut some friends out and re-connected with the ones I believe are worth having in my life. I have thought about everything I drink and eat. As a result I am kinder to my digestive system rather than abusing it. I have thought about getting over FOMO. As a result I have chosen hustling more over going out. I have many more examples, but my point is none of this would have happened so quickly for me if I hadn’t been forced to slow down due to this pandemic. So maybe I’m not necessarily grateful for this pandemic so much as I am grateful to be alive, to know that each day I get to open my eyes and get up is one more day I get the chance to become a better version of myself for the people around me.
It has been brought to my attention the idea of “going back to normal.” Now now kids. I’m not sure anyone has ever defined what normal is. If someone has, I haven’t heard of it. Is normal just a time when face masks were not required? Social distancing was not required? Hugging allowed? Touching in general allowed? To be honest, even if we achieve herd immunity and it’s relatively safe to go outside again without a mask on, I might wear a mask anyway for the rest of my life. The number of flu cases have gone down is just one reason. But besides that, is normal going about your day-to-day business without thinking about how your actions may affect someone else’s life? Do we really have to wait until someone we know passes away to be more vigilant with washing our hands and watching when we touch our faces? If that’s normal I don’t know if I want to go back to it. In fact, I’d venture to say that normal doesn’t stay the same all the time. Its definition changes as life changes. Maybe wearing a mask and social distancing is the new normal. We may not like the new normal, but we have no choice but to accept it. The alternative is something we don’t want to think about, but happens to everyone no matter what you believe in.
So I don’t think I want to go back to normal. I would rather accept the normal I am in right now and make the best of the situation. If we can save lives by wearing masks and social distancing and washing our hands, I’d say that’s a small price to pay to make sure other people can enjoy this life. But if we can do that, we can also quit smoking so no one has to die from lung cancer from secondhand smoke. And if we can do that we can quit sleeping around with anyone who is not our current spouse to prevent the spread of STDs and heartache. We can learn to communicate better with each other, not just clearly, but honestly. We can learn to share what has been given to us so no one goes hungry or becomes a drug addict as a result. We can learn to clean up after ourselves so the proper items we consume are recycled, reduced, and reused so we not only take care of our neighbors, but our beautiful planet. Lofty goals? Maybe. Attainable? I00%.
Every day is like Groundhog Day. Even news reporters report on the same things every night, but now in addition to the pandemic, there seems to be the side effects of the pandemic to report on, which just makes the news all about this infamous virus that will not go away. Yes, we have a light at the end of the tunnel coming in the form of the vaccine, but the virus has certainly taken over our lives, sometimes literally, which is sad to think about. I think for some, in addition to the physical virus, a mental virus has taken over, leading to all these violent headlines and I’m not just referring to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. I’m including headlines like this one, where a shooting rampage went on in Chicago. It pains me to see headlines like this and while I know this one headline may not even be a result of a mental virus, it is just one of many that makes me think there is a mental virus going around as a side effect of the virus going around. Even if that’s not it, a shooting rampage on its own is already sad enough. People are getting tired of staying at home, social distancing, and wearing a mask, but what can you do? Does that really warrant a shooting? We need Miss Congeniality. She would know what to do. She would know what to say. She would know how to defend, not fight. She would know how to get gun violence under control. She would know how to be the job, but how to be a friend as well. She would know which one was the lipstick, but above all, she would really want world peace. Go out, but be safe. Stay in, but fill your mind with positive, happy things. Then when you go out again, you can pass on positive, happy things to whoever you encounter. They will be able to do the same and what a ripple effect that will make. Take that, virus! I dare anything to stand in the path of a healthy, upright mind. Your mind is a powerful thing. It can be the thing that ultimately pulls the trigger, or it can be the thing that brings out the Miss Congeniality in you. The choice is in your hands.