Gary’s January Gems – The What Will Be the New Normal Issue
I’m thinking a lot about when we can expect to return to “normal”. When can we go out to shows, dine out, and have friends over again? Nothing is the same. Nothing is “normal”. I want to set the dial back to its factory setting but that setting doesn’t exist anymore. Regardless of how successful the new vaccines are, we’ve all changed because of this pandemic as events changed the lives of generations before us who experienced similar and worse upheavals.
While we can pinpoint where our childhood home is or was on a map, there’s no GPS that can guide us to where it really exists – in our mind. Thomas Wolf implied in his novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again” that you can’t return to the home we remember from the past because it doesn’t exist as we remember it. Memories aren’t documentaries, they’re impressions. They’re snippets of images projected on the sheers of an open window. Twelve months ago we were celebrating the New Year. We based our predictions and resolutions on what was recorded the preceding year. Three months later, the data was erased and we ricocheted between what we wanted to do and what we needed to do to keep ourselves and our community healthy.
Of course, everyone has their own personal path and their own idea of what a normal life is. Listening to Justin Bieber and posting my latest moves on TIK TOK is not my normal but I coexist with many others for whom it is. When this is all over, we’ll all settle back into our normal routines or adapt to new normals of work location, safety precautions and socializing. We’ve been shaken and stirred to our cores. But one day COVID will become a bookmark in the history of the twenty-first century. All things come to pass.
Fear makes money. Blasting our warnings that the “The sky is falling” repeatedly reaps insecurity and profits. Hope is what should be blasting over the media. Fear has generated paranoia, cynicism and tribalism. Hope, however, especially during through tumultuous times in the past has given us:
- polio and smallpox vaccines,
- artificial hearts and organ transplants,
- Human Genome mapping and gene therapy
- space travel,
- the Internet,
- intelligent phones,
- GPS and
- 3D printers
Today, having self-driven vehicles, AI (Artificial Intelligence), virtual reality and robotics is no longer science fiction but normal.
In spite of COVID, a larger percentage of humanity lives in better conditions than ever before. We can surrender to the weariness of the endless news cycles or we can focus on the positive and influence others for the better. I choose the latter.
Keeping my focus on all the good things happening around me every day brings more and more of them closer into my line of vision.
Every action has a reaction (thanks Newton). Every change creates change around it. Were we ever the same after the Black Death? WWI? The Spanish Flu? The Great Depression? WWII? or 9/11? All of these disasters caused great suffering.
The Black Death, it can be argued, is the grandfather of the Technical Revolution that resulted in miniaturization and even the printing press in 1454. The World Wars accelerated development in every field from medicine to rocket science and was responsible for the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Europe providing the foundation for the European Union. The Spanish Flu gave momentum to national healthcare and employer health insurance plans.
As you can see from these examples, we’re resilient. We are only aware of the “normal” we are born into. In the west, especially in North America, we have been blessed with going about our lives normally for almost four generations. This pandemic is the most serious disruption we’ve ever had on our soil and the repercussions will be long lasting. “We won’t be in Kansas anymore.”
Want to increase your personal happiness in spite of COVID?
Consider making a completely different kind of new year’s resolution this January. Look for the good in humanity and in yourself. Fighting COVID is not just about wearing a mask, washing our hands and social distancing. It’s also about the way we can show our humanity and help someone more in need. If you can, help a charity, help a neighbour, volunteer if you can. Make a difference in the life of someone less fortunate.
To be able to do so is a privilege. Many of us have the time to do so now.
We won’t know when the new normal arrives. There won’t be a government decree. It just will be. Our world will have changed. We will have changed. And hopefully, we will have learned the numerous lessons 2020 has presented to us.
Happy New Year!
2021, ready or not, here we come!
If you enjoyed this read and don’t want to miss another, check past GEMS and more on our i24 Blog