The road ahead for us through this pandemic is uncertain. The likelihood is that our lives are going to be restricted for some time yet, and once things do settle we will find ourselves in a new normal. There is challenge and there is hope. Much as there always is at any juncture.
The way forward
Sure, things are slowly opening up, but that doesn’t mean this disease has been eradicated. Unless there is a vaccine, some affordable wonder treatment, or we establish a herd immunity over a long enough period of time, such that are health services don’t get overstretched, the only way we are getting back to how things once were is if we are prepared to let this particular coronavirus run loose on us (based on New York data current death rate is estimated to be 0.3% in those under 65, but substantially higher in those older than 65 or with some underlying health condition). And then there is no knowing how this coronavirus might mutate as it travels about the world into a strain that is either more deadly than the first, and/or can be picked up again (worth reading here about the Spanish Flu).
Whatever the road we chose it will take us toward a new normal. There is immense challenge steering ourselves on this road, but if we’re careful about it we might come to settle into something that gives us a better life than it did before.
Our struggle – it’s not been ideal
For many of us life has been a deep struggle these past months. Much more than usual. That is, at least, as far as I can tell from the conversations I have with those near and dear. Either that or people are more willing to talk openly about their struggle than before, which itself is no bad thing. It is probably a bit of both – more overall struggle and more openness to talk about what we’re going through – and we’ve all done our best to cope with what we know and what we have. We must all deal with circumstances that are in part our choosing, but also part not. Perhaps, with hindsight, we could have found ourselves at least a little better prepared to deal with this new way of being.
My own current set-up is temporary. When lockdown started I found myself without a home and without a job. I’ve ended up staying with a friend in a small one-bedroom flat. I am blessed in many regards, but it has not always been easy as moods bubble up and down and tensions mount. Sometimes to allow space between us I’ve set-up a tent outside. My friend, who would have otherwise been alone, has certainly welcomed the company, but I certainly can’t stay here forever. I’ve got to find a way out that gives me stability and more direction, so that I can settle confidently into our new normal, whatever that turns out be.
Imagining something different
I am sure I am not the only one to think a lot about the kind of life they would like to have been living had they known that having to stay in that situation indefinitely were on the cards. And so with a little more freedom in the coming weeks, perhaps longer, it is the time to use what has been learnt through hindsight to get set-up in a place where staying indefinitely is possible, where I might be better placed to find nourishment. That I have nothing at the moment perhaps counts in my favour to get myself well set-up for whatever comes next. It will certainly be bumpy.
But how can any of us make a few changes to our situation that will make this easier as we step into the future?
There are the personal choices that bring deeper fulfilment – living with supportive others, regular movement in a natural space, stability in a rounded sense (physical, mental, spiritual, and financial all being interlinked), and a place where there are more purposeful activities to engage with.
But of course there is our wider system. A system in which we have to make these personal choices – that too often limits what many of us are able to do. How will that system have to shift to accommodate us in our new normal? Because that shift is long overdue. There are concerns with our old normal that have become glaringly apparent – poverty, inequalities, racial prejudices, environmental abuse – products of our social, economic, and political system, that have long made personal choices more difficult than they otherwise could be for a lot of us.
Perhaps there is a world ahead that is less one of us versus them, but one where there is a little more togetherness and feels more meaningful. That’s what I’m imagining – personally and societally. Now is the time to take a few of those steps…