Habitual Shouldn’t Mean Normal
Beth and I turned on the ACC basketball tournament last night and remembered that it was a year ago that the tournament was shut down due to the the first outbreak of positive Covid cases. Within a few days, the NCAA tournament was cancelled. And it wasn’t long before all sports took a hiatus.
I remember seeing the first masks in the neighborhood grocery store. They brought to mind photos I’d seen of heavily populated Chinese cities where the citizens mask up due to smog and air pollution. But seeing people wearing blue masks here in my little town in America felt surreal.
We made a decision early on that we would do our best to act as if we were already carriers. I talked to my two adult kids and the teenager living with me that we needed to curtail all contact with non-family, non-household people unless we were working and wearing masks.
That was hard on my teen-aged son who was very used to having friends over and hanging out with them. But it was more real when he was sent home for his last year of high school to finish his senior year on a Chromebook from his bedroom.
I think younger people in general have had a harder time with a more restrictive lifestyle. As I’ve previously written, younger people are more exploratory than exploitative in life. They haven’t had enough time to craft a life that they are sure they’ll like and that will bring them the riches of contentment.
The sports thing actually became a welcome change of pace. I soon found I didn’t miss it at all. We filled that time with other things that were much more shared and therefore more enjoyable. Virtual, nightly attendance to some game or other had felt normal. But just because something is habitual and autonomic doesn’t mean it should be normal.
Maybe too much of life is lived that way, without putting a lot thought into it. But the new reality of Covid created the context to actually think about the mundane and ordinary. So many things that once were normal no longer feel normal. Even watching movies is odd. The characters have no masks on and we shrug and say, ”Pre-Covid”.
So, for me at least there are some positive take-aways from being forced to re-think how life is done. It’s not a bad idea to have that conversation with yourself and those you do life with every so often. If nothing else, Covid has helped reinforce the belief that my favorite things in the world, and the things and people that make life worth living, are pretty close by after all.