We Want Normal Back

but how much do we really want?

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

We humans have been shaken up. This is the first crisis of significant magnitude that many adults have seen. Others, like me, who are a bit older have seen other devastating events. In all the past chaos that I can remember living through there was an enemy or somewhere to place the blame for the event.

Covid-19 is a completely, utterly different type of stress inducer and the clear enemy is ourselves.

We have been told that our family, friends, and neighbors must be avoided. We can’t go hang out at the restaurants, movies, bars, clubs, civic group houses or other places that are usually filled with our tribe, our people. We can’t go to school. Some people can’t go to work. There are no play dates for stay at home moms to take littles. There is little in the way entertainment. Even the way we worship and tend to our spirituality has changed. There is no escaping the mandate of stay home. Most of us are doing as instructed.

We are all terrified of the invisible enemy, so we comply.

Mental stress caused by this event is unlike any I have experienced. I miss my friends. I am scared for my family. I am doing all I can to protect them but what if it is not enough. Normally I am a deep and easy sleeper. If my house fell down all around my bed, I would sleep through it, not now. I find myself depressed with no real reason. Sometimes I am just not right to the point I want to cry.

I know I am not the only one feeling this weird vibe.

Then there is the change in how we communicate from a distance. What I have noticed is the moment we were told to stop physically interacting is when humans started to interact. I don’t see faces looking down at screens when standing six or more feet apart in the store to pick up groceries. People are smiling and talking. They are socializing where before they did not. Before it was an occasional hello, not now. Everyone smiles and says hello. It was a bit creepy at first.

Now, people are outside in the sunshine. I am one of the blessed few who is still going to work. When I drive in and out of my neighborhood, people wave and nod. I see more humans out walking and on bicycles than before we were told to stay put. Some of the same people who in the past have ignored me are now waving. Most houses look fabulous outside with manicured flower beds and trimmed lawns. It is strange that in a time when we are more dependant and hyperfocused on technology, that our first instinct was to rush out in nature and spend time in the sun.

What’s more, people are using technology to conduct virtual face to face meetings. Now technology is our lifeline. People who do not like technology are learning how to see their colleagues and family through the screens. Humans are using technology to socialize differently than before. Yes, they are still using messaging and social media, but now I see more Facebook Live notifications. Seems everyone is giving their friends a glimpse into their day to day lives.

Curious and curiouser, Alice. I am not sure what is happening. Did I fall into that rabbit hole?

Could it be that social distancing has forced us to realize what we could lose by living so much of our life in the virtual realm? Has social distancing caused us to crave being more social?

Here is the big question, how much normal do we really want back?

For those of us who remember life after 9/11, this feeling of connection, of unity as a nation stuck around for a long time. Then one-day without knowing when it happened, the intense patriotism was gone. We started ignoring each other. We became skeptical of government and life took on a new us and them mantra.

The sense of the individual is slowly peeling away as we have come to realize that only as a whole can we eliminate the risk. It takes all Americans doing their part for us to survive this. We have to trust that our neighbors, coworkers, fellow shoppers are all doing the same things, taking the same precautions.

I will be interested to see how this plays out for us. I hope that we as a society keep on this path of wanting more time with our loved ones. I hope we continue to explore other options for living. I hope this human determination to survive and to connect in person even across dividing factors remains after we are allowed to get back to normal.

Right now in the midst of this crisis, I feel like it is the calm before the storm. I have this weird vibe that I can’t shake. Like something worse is on the horizon. I hope what I am feeling is wrong.

~Lori O’Gara

Thank you for your time. You can see more of my writing here or sign up for the O’Gara Inner Circle here

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