Full disclosure: This is the 8th blog post I’ve written, so if you’re reading this it made the cut!
I’ve tried to think of so many things to write that aren’t pandemic related, I’ve tried so hard not to be in that place or be that person, but I’m only human. As a human, as a writer, I write about what’s occurring in my world and the thoughts that keep me up late at night. Right now, those thoughts mostly revolve around the state of our world and the current crises and uncertainties we are facing. Because of that, I felt it important to let myself write about this topic, and given that many places are starting to open back up again it seemed even more fitting.
We’ve all heard it, “The new normal.” That’s where we’re at, and what we’re diving into. Let me be the first to welcome you to the greatest pile of B.S. As someone who’s had to adapt to a “new normal” several times, there’s never anything even remotely normal about it. Who are we trying to kid? There will never again be a “normal”. That’s the realist [re. Mini cynic] rearing it’s not so glamorous head. The reality is, the world that we knew is no longer, and we have to adjust.
It seems to me, though, that we may be missing a huge step in this process of shutting down, staying home, turning things upside down, and reopening them. Where’s the part where we grieve the world we use to live in? You know, the one without masks, the one where the only separation was the six degrees between each of us and Kevin Bacon (😉), the one where we knew planes were filthy and traveled anyways (no risk, no reward, totally worth it)? We no longer have the ability to live like that, especially for anyone who falls even remotely near the high risk category. So, I think it’s important to take a moment and mourn what we knew prior to this and acknowledge that we have in fact lost something, and it’s okay to grieve it.
Ironically, grief for me didn’t kick in until a couple weeks back when I heard my beloved childhood camp wasn’t going to open this summer; mind you that it’s been over seven years since I was a SIT there and longer since I was a camper. For me, that place will always be home no matter how long it’s been. What hit the hardest though, was realizing that my baby cousin (who’ll kill me if he knows he’s in my blog or that I called him ‘baby’) will be missing what we call the LYD year– or Last Year Daled year. It’s the final year of camp, the culmination of 8 summers and then some worth of fun and memories. I remember being an LYD like it was yesterday, and picturing all the things I got to do and experiences I had; the fact that he wouldn’t be getting those really broke my heart. The same goes as I look at all the graduates of 2020, and all of the major milestones that are having to be changed.
The world as I knew it was never a safe place, but I was never scared. Even after tragedy struck, I didn’t have a fear of walking out my door in the morning. Today? Today I mourn the fact that causally going somewhere, for the foreseeable future, will not be in the cards for me. I mourn not getting to surprise my bestie for her birthday (surprise 🎉), or being able to go to New York on a whim. I mourn for all those lives lost, but I also mourn for all those lives profoundly changed.
None of us are coming out of this unscathed. There will be PTSD, tears, and emotional baggage we may carry for a long time; and possibly, on the bright side, a new skill or two. Whatever you’re feeling at this point is valid, because they’re your feelings– yours and yours alone. But if I have to get cliche at this point, I’ll dust off my old High School Musical CD and tell you that we’re all in this together.
I’m going to take my time and mourn what was, but on that same note I’m also going to appreciate what this global reset has done for us and acknowledge the things I hope don’t change:
Unity. Whether with family or the world at large, this time of unification has been beautiful. Never have I seen us all band together more, even while far apart.
Kindness. I’ve had my coffee paid for more times in this pandemic than ever before. It’s a small thing, but it makes a huge impact. While tensions may get high in these frustrating times, patients and kindness will take us far.
Connection. Being able to hug my friends and family is something I never have and never will take for granted. But I will also never take for granted the beauty of the internet that allows us to facetime/zoom/Skype/etc. Even if my bestie and I mastered that years ago, I’ll always cherish being able to stay in contact with people wherever they are and having that connection.
Simplicity. So many of us have tapped into a different side of ourselves, when the binge watching becomes too much. Going back to basics with things like puzzles, cooking, knitting, games, or even just going for walks, the simple joy of making bread or doing tie dye! These are all things I hope we don’t lose, that and the chalk art on the sidewalks.
All of this makes me think of the period of time we’re at in the Jewish calendar; Sefiras ha’Omer– The counting of the Omer. This is a period of 49 days where we’re counting up from Pesach to Shavous, when we receive the Torah. We also are in a period of mourning. There’s deep mysticism behind this time, with each day making us focus on different attributes. One way it’s looked at is that we’re taking these 49 days to refine ourselves and preparing to become the best version of who we are so that we can receive the Torah with all our heart and take it in to the depths of our soul. You approach a King and take His gift with grace, humbleness, and a dash of humility. We are not worthy, but G-d sees us as worthy, so let’s get ourselves to a place of at least being somewhat deserving.
While this dvar Torah (Torah lesson) may not make complete sense, I think about this time and the changes of the world and can only hope it was for some greater reason or outcome. The world needed refreshing, it needed a reset and a time for all of us to reassess what’s important. This pandemic has humbled us and refined us, hopefully to make us the best version of ourselves.
We gained so much from this period of time where we’ve lost so much. Let us take some time to mourn the world we knew, but let’s make sure to not let it’s loss be in vain.