Sometimes I have these moments. They feel low, like a disappointment you can’t quite correct. You just ‘feel’ something that doesn’t feel like it should be that way, but yet it is, and you’re left just watching it play out with a sigh, wishing you knew how to make it all work.
Let me preface a lot of this by saying that I’m glad people are feeling some light at the end of a tunnel of a rough year. That the losses that were suffered were devastating and never should have happened, that families and friends should not have had to endure what they did. Personally I feel we’ve come a long way in that time – from a time of uncertainty to a better understanding, at least on a scientific level.
But on a societal level, I can’t say I’ve found much confidence that we’ve walked away with much for the better. At least not as a whole. So when I say what I’m about to say, it needs to be clear that I don’t want or wish for any of the terrible things, losses, etc, that people have endured. What I’m saying is that I miss something about the early days of the pandemic – the kindness.
When everything started to turn upside down last year at the beginning of the pandemic, there seemed to be a general sense of community. You kept hearing phrases that we were “all in this together.” People were compassionate with each other as the world tried to juggle a hybrid of remote work and school. We were figuring it all out as we went along. But we all seemed to know that.
Even large companies got in on it, offering channels on cable systems we didn’t normally receive or offering early releases of movies (the pure joy of the kids getting to see Frozen 2 on Disney+ comes to mind). Streaming platforms provided free memberships, art was being shared as a common lifter, we thanked those out there in the thick of it every day. We were reminded that maybe we had moved through life a bit too fast every day and that perhaps this sudden upheaval was a sign to take things a little slower and appreciate the world and life around us.
It actually seemed kind of nice to have some worthwhile, soulful moments and lessons come out of something that had been so awful for so many.
But it didn’t seem to last.
A few weeks to a month turned into several months, which turned into a year. And long before we even hit that year-long anniversary, it seemed like so many had already just moved on. Back into the workplace, back into the classroom, back to the athletic fields, the store, the gym, the theatre, back to as much of how things were before as possible, as quickly as possible.
Gone so quickly was the kindness, the sharing, the appreciation for each other. In its place was an irritated rush and push to get things back to the way they were – the very things that we were reminded didn’t matter as much as we thought. And here, it seemed, we were being pushed to embrace it all again.
One of the more frequent lessons of life that creeps it way into discussion with our children (even pre-pandemic) is that with moments and events that seem awful, seem sad, seem disappointing, there is, somewhere in there, a nugget of opportunity to learn from it and use what we learn from it to do better, be better going forward.
Trying to force normalcy in abnormal times does not make things normal.
But what good does it do us at any age, if we endure upheaval, massive events, and refuse to allow it to help our perspective, to offer us something new to learn? If we can’t see the forest for the trees, we’re just doomed to forever lose ourselves again and again.