There is a light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. But it’s still a long way off.
While vaccinations are ramping up, COVID infection numbers as still climbing. Hence, people are still getting sick and dying at an alarming rate (which, unfortunately, is alarming us too little).
Many people are exhausted. Between quarantine, various restrictions, Zoom calls, social distancing, and mask-wearing — the new normal of the past year has become wearisome.
Vaccinations are a source of hope. This is an excellent thing. It will help us to reach the end of this. But in this moment — we’re still in the middle of it.
This is why maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and keeping to limited pods of people remain necessary. These actions — in the now — will get us to the “there” of a post-pandemic world.
Unfortunately, there are still many people who refuse to acknowledge the severity of this virus, the SCIENTIFIC FACT that it has killed more than half-a-million Americans (550,000 people — or — 10 Dodger Stadia full of people), that nearly 5,000 people are still becoming infected DAILY, or that the economy is more important than human lives.
Sadly, there’s not much we can do for those people. I can’t make anyone understand the severity and reality of this situation — no matter how many facts I have at my disposal.
But you and I can make choices and decisions for the now, this moment in time, to get to the “there” we desire for the post-pandemic world.
However, there are some things to keep in mind.
The post-pandemic world will NOT be the pre-pandemic world
Much has changed since COVID-19 impacted our lives.
Beyond the obvious — a different administration, lost jobs, remote work and schooling, and seeing both the best and worst of many people — there are other factors to consider.
While many people love the idea of gathering together with friends and family, if you have been cognizant of the pandemic, you’ll find you can’t just strip off the mask and hug everyone. I know I want to (with consent, of course) — but it’s going to be awkward.
The added caution is not a bad thing, though. The flu numbers from this winter — between social distancing, self-quarantines, and mask-wearing — were historically low. Not just low, but practically non-existent. For example — during the 2019–2020 flew season, 195 children died from the flu. During the 2020–2021 season — there was 1 death.
Imagine, next winter, being more cautious in social gatherings, washing hands, wearing masks, and maintaining the practices of the pandemic world — and keeping those numbers historically low?
We are empowered to do this. But you, and you alone, can make such choices.
Other elements of the pandemic-world will carry over to the post-pandemic world. Many jobs that “could not” go remote did — and may stay that way. I expect a whole lot of office spaces to be downsized or outright vacated. We all hear horror stories of children suffering terribly from online learning. But there ARE students thriving from this new learning model.
What’s more, as a society, we have seen how greed, false demagogues, and out-of-whack priorities impact us negatively. By being present, in the now, we can do things that will help us to a better “there” post-pandemic.
And this is why being in the now is so important to this.
All change begins in the now
First, let’s acknowledge this: change is inevitable. It is the only constant in the known Universe.
Like it or not, COVID-19 has changed the world. Because change is inevitable, we cannot go back to where we were before this. We can only move forward into the new world.
But you can’t begin in the past or with tunnel-vision focus on the future. You need to be in the here-and-now.
Because the past can’t be altered, and the future is unwritten, now is the only time you CAN control. Thus, you can act for your own good; spread awareness; help people in need; employ kindness, compassion, and empathy, and; strive to be a good person both for yourself and others.
It begins with being mindful of who you are. That leads to awareness and consciousness about not just who you are, but where, why, how, when, and even what you are. That mindfulness empowers you to see not just your inner being — your mindset/headspace/psyche self — but deeper, into your subconscious being — your values, beliefs, and habits.
You can do nothing to change the outside world until you are mindful of your inner self. And I know that can be super-frustrating and feel disempowering. But the opposite is true.
By knowing yourself, you empower yourself. That knowing is truest in the now. Because this moment in time, right here and now, is the only real time that there is.
The past has passed and can’t be redone. The future is unwritten, uncertain, and fraught with unknowns. But here and now — the control of your life experience is yours for the taking.
This knowledge and the conscious awareness that comes of it is how we get to a post-pandemic “there” of our desiring.
How you approach life now impacts getting “there”
Let me begin with a quote from The Princess Bride,
“Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.”
While this may seem rather bleak, it’s not wrong. But pain is not the word I would use as the descriptive. Too much negativity is implied by pain. I would instead choose a more neutral word. Like challenging.
Life IS challenging. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.
It is only by facing challenges that we grow and evolve. Like it or not, this is an inevitability of life. But rather than fear it — we can choose to face it.
Who you were at age 5 is not who you are at age 15. Likewise, who you were at age 15 isn’t who you are at age 25. And let me tell you — who I was at age 25 is nowhere near who I am now at age 48.
That’s natural growth and evolution over time, on lots and lots of levels. And I can’t go back and change anything about my past — I can only work in the now to impact my future and the “there” I want to reach on the other side — at the post-pandemic world.
To do that, rather than fear the challenges of life — I choose to work with them. And to do that as best as possible, the work must occur in the here-and-now.
It’s important to be present in the now, en route to the “there” post-pandemic. While each of us can only choose this for ourselves, I believe that when we do — and more people see how it empowers us — that empowers them, too.
Be in the now to get to there
This has been a dark year. But in addition to a light at the end of the tunnel — there are lights among us. You get to choose to be a point of light now to guide yourself through the dark — and help guide others, too.
To see the other side, we need to be cognizant of where we are, now. We need to be mindful of where “here and now” is in relation to “there”. Mindfulness is the internal monitor for this process.
Keep maintaining social distance among strangers, wear your mask, wash your hands, get vaccinated. The more of us who take such care in the now the more of us can make “there” a worthwhile place to reach.
Stay strong. You are not alone. Together — six-feet apart — we can get “there,” to the post-pandemic world, from here and now.