As far as I can tell, the world is opening up and people are on the move. Despite the juxtaposition of the news, views and actions around the globe. Politicians need the pandemic to be over. They need to lift Covid restrictions. Make a declaration that business is back to normal. Health officials and scientists are urging caution, a slower approach to removing measures which stem contagion. In countries that had declared the pandemic controlled and manageable, there are numbers and trends that belie those statements. Is the current surge in cases the result of the alignment of a tenacious virus pitted against human flaws in judgment?
It seems once again that health and safety are largely in the hands of each individual. We have embraced countries that have decided to let us in. Booking flights, hotels and activities. Trusting that appropriate safety protocols to mitigate the risk of catching the variant are in place. Trusting that although the opening of borders makes little logical sense, somehow it means that we’re immune – we’ll be fine. We’re double vaxed and we will wear a mask. Wanting desperately to believe that irresponsible decisions wouldn’t be made. Rainbows do touch the ground. Unicorns are real.
This confounding nature continues with return to office policies. Companies that vowed during earlier waves that remote work would always be an option – downsizing and even letting go of space – now want people in the office. There is a continuum of executive rhetoric; people are due back in September; we are creating a hybrid model that combines remote work with in-office requirements; we are waiting to determine what the fourth wave looks like. Directives around social distancing on transit, in elevators, and in open concept hotelling structures that are the norm for many workplaces, are vague if mentioned at all. The dislocation and relocation of employees add complexity to the simple dictates of the CEO. Headlines predict mass resignations.
A fundamental challenge of being parents is managing the fine balance of keeping your child mentally and emotionally well while mitigating risk to their physical health as they evolve from a dependent infant to a self-sustaining adult. The latest metrics from other countries and physicians and health officials add to the burden and anxiety felt by families. While filling a return–to–school knapsack for donation to a community cause, I was confronted with the usual pens, binders, notebooks and markers. As well as three-packs of masks and clip-on flasks of hand sanitizer. Overwhelmed, I bought it all. And wondered how I would feel if it was one of mine, unvaccinated, heading into a classroom. My first day of school worries of long ago seemed trivial.
Many are longing, with an undercurrent of fear and distrust, to return to life as it was 18 months ago. And others, with the experience of remote working and stay-at-home orders, want a different lifestyle. In my family, I hear excitement at the prospect of going back to the office. While another proclaims to be living her best life under the Covid restrictions. Society is being provoked to question the norms of two years ago.
I am discovering an opportunity to be empowered as I review the experiences and lessons of pandemic living. In this transition phase to an unknown set of new norms, or another phase of the virus, I am cautious of slips to old ways and habits.
I intend to preserve time alone for reflection, writing and rest. I intend to continue with a predominantly plant–based diet, despite the headwinds of busier days and less preparation time. I intend to stake out time for yoga, my bike in the loft, and the beautiful trails snaking through the valley. I am honouring my preference for smaller social circles, deeper conversations, and less worry about my aging body.
At least, that is my experience.