Sometimes referred to as BC or Before Covid, I work hard to stop thinking about those ‘before’ times. I’m not sure that it’s useful to spend time longing for the past.
It’s now almost 14 months since the pandemic hit Europe and North America. So much is different. Massive changes everywhere have affected us socially, economically, politically, and culturally. Health will never be taken for granted in the same way. Travel is a distant memory.
In the first weeks after the pandemic began, most of us were buoyed by a sense of novelty. For example, using Zoom for meetings was new. We used Zoom to share dinners, hold birthday parties, and gather with family members we could not see in person.
As the months passed, Zoom meetings became shorter. Zoom lost its charm. Perhaps people got tired of using technology to compensate for real-time interactions; perhaps it’s because there is hardly any laughter during a zoom call. Happy hour on Zoom is not the same — somehow, it’s not as happy!
In ‘before’ times, I seldomly watched tv newscasts; now, I’m glued to the nightly news and sometimes turn on a tv set during the day to see a politician or public health official make announcements about the pandemic. When COVID first hit, we cancelled newspaper subscriptions as nobody was sure that germs were not transmitted on paper surfaces. We’ve not reinstated the subscription, as we find news feeds on our computers and phones more convenient.
Letting Go of ‘Before’ Times
It’s easy to focus on what’s been lost when we think of the ‘before’ times. Those lunches and dinners with friends, theatre outings, concerts, movie dates, sports events, book club meetings, and bridge games are memories. Likewise for exercise at the gym, aquafit classes, and yoga workouts!
Many things that were normal in ‘before’ times are unimaginable now. I think about spontaneous hugs or handshakes when we greeted each other as examples of behaviours we practised without a second thought. Inviting people into our homes for coffee, tea, food, or drinks was a common form of hospitality. Random conversations with strangers while in the checkout line at the grocery store provided a diversion when waiting. I miss making spur-of-the-moment decisions to visit someone or go out for dinner instead of cooking at home.
Expectations have changed. Travel plans are held in abeyance with closed borders and government travel advisories. Social events are limited — if they happen at all. Activities like eating at a buffet restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, or using a public washroom are unimaginable for many.
Perhaps it’s the simple things we miss the most. For me, it’s picking up my grandchildren for an outing to the park or to visit an ice-cream parlour. For others, it may be a daily visit with friends in a coffee shop. People describe unwanted and unhealthy feelings of isolation.
Uncertainty and Transition
As we envision the end of Covid restrictions, we feel uncertain and hesitant. We can use this uncertainty to envision different futures. While all of us may long for the sense of stability and predictability of BC times, Covid has changed us.
This time of uncertainty holds the possibility for transition. Unless we look to the Spanish Flu or World War Two, there is no reference case nor model for the massive economic and social changes that we might anticipate. We are already learning new ways of doing and being. For many, the world of work has moved from office-based to home-based. The world of commerce now happens mainly online rather than at the mall. Road trips within our country are replacing expensive flights to exotic international destinations. Virtual healthcare is accepted as an efficient mechanism for routine consultations.
As we explore new scenarios for our lives it’s important to look at what’s around us through new eyes. We can let the world as it is today, rather than as it was BC, show us a new path for happiness.
These days I treasure time more than I did BC. Appreciation of a slower lifestyle is one of the benefits of pandemic isolation so I’ll be careful not to over-schedule myself in the exuberance of a transition back to safe interactions. I’m working hard to exploit my happy BC memories for the courage and confidence to make necessary changes to enjoy what life has to offer After Covid.