DO WE NEED
We are already midway thru June. Can you believe it? Time certainly passes quickly, especially when a busy schedule keeps you from counting the minutes as time passes by. Whenever I think about time, I always think about my grandmother. Grandma would say, "enjoy your time now because as you get older, it passes by quickly." She repeated this statement numerous times to remind me to enjoy time in the present. So thinking of grandma and her wisdom, I'm desperately trying to enjoy the moments and not let summer pass me by with lightning speed. This summer has literally been a year in the making. A year ago, we were all locked inside our homes and flats. We were locked inside the house, dreaming and praying for the day to come when we would be free to roam and play. Well!!! The day has come in many parts of the world. But yet, some of us are still left perplexed and wondering. I mean, it can't just be me with lingering feelings about abandoning many of the things I grew used to over the past year.
A few weeks ago, with lockdown in London lifted, we were all free to roam and shop on the high streets again and get back to a little of the "old normal." I decided to run some errands and found myself on one of the busiest streets for shopping and hanging out in London. I thought it would be nice to buy myself a lovely summer dress. After all, it's been over a year since I've been on the high street looking for clothes. Well, it took all of two seconds before I realized I felt overwhelmed. The crowd seemed too much. I felt awkward and uncomfortable and found it challenging to maneuver myself between and around all the people. I needed space and air, so I ducked into one of the only stores that didn't have a line to enter. It was here I discovered some things have got to give and/or change.
The store was big and bright and had a nice flow of air coming inside. As I began to relax, I started searching the rails for a lovely summer dress. I scored and found a flowy breezy dress along with a black straw hat. I made my way towards the till only to find there was a line. Lockdown is over. I guess cueing goes along with freedom. But it was while I was in line that a realization came over me. While in line, a couple stood directly behind me. No six feet. No social distance. Directly behind me as one would pre-Covid. Of course, we all had on a mask. The city is open, but face coverings are still mandatory. But even with our faces covered, I felt a little anxious at how close we were standing together. It was one of those weird moments when you have to think to yourself, "is it them? Or is it me?" It was at this moment I decided I needed to have a conversation with myself.
After a year of living with the "new normal," the "old normal" feels oddly uncomfortable. Being in a crowded place with people and faces only a few inches away suddenly felt like the worst possible way to spend the day. I spent many days thinking about and looking forward to getting back out there and being amongst people again. However, it was the reality of the feeling "I can't wait to get back out there!!!" that was quickly passing. Maybe it was too much too soon. Or maybe, being in a crowd, standing in line to enter a store, or not having enough air to breathe around you isn't part of my "normal" anymore.
Admittedly, I was never all that excited about cueing or walking in crowds. I actually do not think anyone is fond of these things. But we do it because it's just what we do. I use to do it without care or thought. Now? Two people who seemed like a lovely couple made me question if they needed to be at least three more feet away from me. If this is the "new normal," I think I'm going to have a lot of conversations with myself.
So I thought about these moments more than once. Finally, I decided I can't be the only one that feels the need for Covid de-training. Over the past year, our brains became inundated with messages, news, and information. Our brains said, "stay away," "six feet," "don't touch," "If you do touch, wipe and/or sanitize." At first, the brain had to process the information on a pandemic because at first brain thought we were going slightly mad. But quickly, the brain said, "I've got this," and before we knew it, we automatically kept six feet apart, wore a face covering, and washed our hands constantly. Who would have ever thought there would be a time when most of us can literally eyeball six feet? Never! No one ever!!
Now don't get me wrong. I've been actively doing activities I haven't done in a year to help de-program and without stress. For example, so far this summer, even though in London summer weather was briefly looking unpromising, I finally took a train ride into the countryside to visit my best friend, goddaughter, and my brother from another mother. We had a lovely BBQ with the legal amount of other people. It was all very stress-free. But the train ride over and back??? That's another story. Not so stress-free and very crowded. I can't remember when the train was ever as crowded as it was in both directions. But in place of traveling internationally, I think many Brits are taking advantage of all the places to go in their own beautiful country.
So I'm going to enjoy this summer which we've all been looking forward to enjoying. I will remember to enjoy each day and minute, which is going by all too quickly, just like my grandmother reminded me to do. But I'm also going to ease into certain activities which involve large crowds. Or....maybe NOT! Maybe crowds just aren't my thing anymore. Perhaps crowds aren't my "new normal." All I know is as life becomes much less restricted, many of us may discover some of our "old normal" will never become part of our "new normal." As we begin to reprogram and retrain our brains, some habits we've acquired may be hard to break. Some practices may be with us for a lifetime. Maybe...rediscovering our "new normals" will give us a new perspective on life, our time, and how we spend it. As we reenter the world, we will likely have to retrain our brains. But maybe...just maybe...it's the world telling us this just isn't your normal anymore.