As governments and businesses look for ways to bring us out of our homes and back to some semblance of normal, I started thinking.
The hardest thing about creating a list like this is that in my head, I hear you naysayers arguing or dismissing every point. I get so weary of hearing those cynical words as I write that I often refuse to publicly share my thoughts. That’s my deal. If you feel you must disagree with what I have to say, check yourself first. That’s your deal. You get to choose to be hopeful or negative. Please don’t let negativity find its way through you as a response to my words.
In any case, I agree that we need things to begin chugging along again so that people return to work, and businesses find their way back. The truth is, hurting people are still hurting. There are those who have been and will always be stingy and mean-spirited. There is always ugliness. But I believe in hope, joy, peace, love, kindness, gentleness, and generosity. And I believe that in the long-run, those things will win out.
Here are the things I will miss as the world rushes to go back to normal.
1. We were unified. We’ve all been focused on a single thing – keeping ourselves and others healthy. We were unified in our worries and fears – even when it was about toilet paper. Whether it was social-distancing, face-masks, quarantining in place, helping others – we’ve been in this together.
2. We slowed down. The whole world took a breath at the same time. We found time to read, listen to music, assemble puzzles, play games, make and eat meals at home, on and on. We took walks or went for a drive together. We stopped the rat race. And while we were at it, we discovered that nature also thrived at this opportunity to renew itself.
3. We connected. Where once we believed that we first needed to do our jobs and connect with friends and family only if there was time left over, suddenly connecting became the most important thing. We found new ways to communicate – baking with Grandma via video conference, gathering to drive past a home to celebrate special events, family video calls for holidays, family and friend video calls just because we could, standing outside a window to express love, a teacher sitting on a student’s driveway six feet away just to show them they were important. There are so many stories. Many finally realized that their true worth was found with people who loved them, not in a sterile office building.
4. We recognized the importance of those who work hard in the background of our lives. For the first time in my memory, we celebrated on a large-scale those who make this world run day after day. No longer a hidden workforce, these people did what they always do. They showed up and did the work.
5. We celebrated unsung heroes. Rather than looking at artificial beauty, strength, and power, we cheered for health care workers who work every single day in really tough circumstances to offer relief and care. We realized how important our teachers are as they scrambled to make learning possible in new and different ways.
6. We created. There has been so much beauty that has come from the hands of talented creators and makers. Without thought to cost or income loss, talented people around the world gave from the heart. People rediscovered their love of creation and then shared it.
7. We thought outside the box. From restaurants and businesses offering curbside pickup, to virtual shopping walk-thrus, convenience stores with full-service gas pumps, artists offering lessons and classes online, telecommuting and video conferencing – we created models and methods to work in this new world. Entrepreneurs have been revealed everywhere.
8. We supported. When we could, we were there offering support to local businesses, missions, animal shelters, food banks, care for front-line workers, face masks. The list is enormous.
9. We’re generous. From the largest companies to individuals, giving has been incredible. Donations of food, money, time, work. We showed up. Whether it was caring for one or two people or large swaths of those in need, we looked for new ways to be generous.
10. We hoped. Together, we hoped for better times. We didn’t just let the trauma of this destroy us, we looked forward even when it was tough.
11. We were kind. When we found hurting people, we reached out to create fresh ways to touch their hearts. From alpacas visiting nursing homes, to people applauding healthcare workers at shift-turns, to drive-by birthdays, to making sure people received groceries when they couldn’t leave their homes. We were kind.
Do I want normal to return? Not really. Not the normal that existed before we went home and closed our doors.
I want us to recognize that a change in our behavior and in our expectations for work and life is possible. If we didn’t like the way we operated before the pandemic hit, we must look for ways to do things differently. Even if you return to a normal forty-hour workweek, maybe that’s enough. Maybe you don’t need to sacrifice time with family and friends to crank out ten more hours so you can prove your worth.
I hope that we find ways to count the blessings we’ve received these last two months and blend them with a new normal that allows us to continue to breathe, celebrate, create, be generous, caring, hopeful, and kind.
Then no one will miss these things. Because they will be present.