One day soon, we’ll all be ceasing our self-distancing, our self-isolation; let this be a lesson to us about how much we need each other, and how much we miss and lose when we are alone.
So, where are we?
And how are we doing?
I’m hunkered down – there is just one of me living here, virus-free. I am always self-isolating, and now more deliberately as my office colleagues and I work more from home, as I go out less, I’m more purposeful in trips and errands, still shopping early mornings when stores are empty of people, but now I also fear they’ll be devoid of groceries – but that’s another column for another day.
Let my metaphor-laced article begin:
I have three computers, all virus-free.
Two new ones, laptop and desktop, rarely cause me operating difficulties or lock-up, and that is because I’ve asked it to do some impossible thing – mostly because they are newer, better, and at one year old, are only moderately obsolete, and have the best malware and virus blocking capability.
My older desktop sits in my writing room, where I hunker down to write.
It’s too good to discard, yet too old to use for critical business communications – slower speed, and some operating system glitches. Not many, but a few.
Networked, accesses everything I need online, it sits in my walk-in closet/writing room.
Sometimes it locks up. I’ve learned that’s because I’m running Windows 7, and these things happen with older computers. Have you ever had to reboot a Microsoft operating system after it has ‘shut down’ on its own?
Bold white text appears on a black background appears, offering a range of options that you or your administrator can choose when restarting.
It has the ‘RESTART NORMALLY’ option highlighted. If that’s what you want, all you do is hit the ENTER key.
At this moment, our planet is partially paralyzed – we experiencing travel, commerce, and social gridlock like never before.
Our good news, if there is any, relates to decreased energy consumption leading to a cleaner planet, but that doesn’t mean as much when we consider how much more in cleaning solvents, sanitary wipes, paper products, etc. we are flushing down our sewers or sending to landfills …
One day soon, probably in a few weeks, life as we know it will return to a ‘new normal’ life – where our understanding of virus infections will have grown, with stock and commodity markets stabilized, and world political leaders will have learned to listen to real doctors rather than spin-doctors.
One day soon, we will want to feel normal again, resume routines of work, play, school, and travel – but will we know how to restart?
One day soon, we will collectively resume normal activities. Some because an official said so, some because presidents, prime ministers, CEOs, and recognized authorities tell us it is safe to do so.
One day soon, we will be faced with this question: DO YOU WANT TO RESTART NORMALLY?
Will we hit ENTER?
Will we say, hold on, wait a minute, let me read the fine print, let me talk to some experts, let me check some other sources. When we do that, we’ll be dealing with a lot of information woven among the misinformation. Some will say that’s nothing new. But what will be distinctive, I believe, will be a heightened level of skepticism in what we are told.
For instance, where I live. A wonderful place, where officials, offer prudent advice on what to do – to avoid contact with crowds, or people recently returned from a trip, to self-isolate generally, to work from home if you can, to wash our hands. And don’t touch your face. Mostly, not much to worry about because the case count is low, and health care officials are coping. Sounds great, but how do you explain the frenzy at the grocery stores – stocking up, hoarding toilet paper (really, how often do you go?) as if there would be no more supply.
What could make this worse?
Hopefully, not much. But you have to wonder, given this economic carnage coupled with virus-fears, what would one more thing do to us? Serious-minded people would cope. Nearly-unglued folks would come unglued. We would collectively react. We all know how to do that. When there is a flood, a wildfire, a tsunami, a nuclear power plant disaster, or a massive terror attack – we know how to react. If hit, we clean up. If not, we go help others – we send blankets, doctors, and money. We rebuild, we help others rebuild, we restart or help others restart. But now we are dealing with something that fits the definition of ‘a never before event,’ a Black Swan.
Never before has the whole world been collectively gripped in a crisis of this type or magnitude. You might dismiss it as something scary, with only 5,000 dead worldwide. If that was all there was to this, that might be a safe stance.
But we don’t trust the numbers, the advice of authorities, the legitimacy of so many news sources.
Are the Chinese, Iranians, and Russians telling the truth about their numbers? We know the Americans aren’t because they aren’t testing. I trust the South Korean numbers – because they are vigorously and widely testing. I have confidence in Canadian numbers, but cannot say I am confident in the process – again, because of insufficient testing.
One day soon, someone will blow a whistle. It will be the all-clear sign.
We’ll be told to RESTART NORMALLY.
I think that is unlikely, but mostly I need a new definition of NORMAL.
We may have lost trust in our leaders, confidence in our economy, and our somewhat blind sense of security each time we walk outdoors, shop, dine, travel, or greet others. This is not WW III. We are lucky we get this scare, opportunity for prudent, and corrective action. There will be scrupulous folks profiteering, there will be costs and losses beyond what our governments backstop with our money – lives will be lost, lives may be shortened, and our collective consciousness will be altered.
But will that last? Should it last?
One day soon, we will be restarted – and what concerns me is not what we’ll remember from this ordeal we are in, but how quickly we might collectively forget.
There is no new-normal or old-normal.
There is today.
There will be tomorrow.
And one day soon, we will all be ceasing our self-distancing and self-isolation; let this be a lesson to us about how much we need each other, and how much we miss and lose when we are alone.