What's Tony Thinking

Dreading a Return to “Normal”?


Today’s New York Times has a video essay, “Dreading a Return to ‘Normal? You’re Not Alone,” that I thought was interesting and quite well done.

It focuses on three people who, while not wishing the pandemic and its consequences on anyone, have also found it, each in their own way, to be a respite and release.

One is a novelist in San Diego who considers herself an introvert. She is daunted by the prospect of post-pandemic levels of activity and engagement. A second is a person who relies on a wheel-chair in New York City. She is not eager to again face the challenges of a world not built for disabled people. The third is a retired Episcopal priest living in Santa Fe. He is an African-American, who is gay, who got a break from steady low-level racism during the pandemic.

I understand that many of you readers of this blog probably, like us, get the NYT on line and so may have seen this piece without my calling attention to it. But for those who do not get the NYT or missed it, it’s worth checking out.

It tells an uncomfortable truth about the pandemic. At least for some people, perhaps many, there were upsides to it. It wasn’t all bad. Some of it, or at least its side effects, were good.

True, none of the three are parents with small children at home. None are in workforce positions that required them to show up in-person incurring risk to do so. None were doctors or nurses or health-care workers of other sorts. All those folks may be breathing a sigh of relief.

But even some of those will, I suspect, be missing aspects of the pandemic world and adaptations we made in it. It appears to me that for our children and their families (our grandchildren) life was less hectic. Less time was spent in cars and traffic. Kids got more rest. Families got closer. Some families became multi or inter-generational in ways that were, while not without stresses, enriching for everyone concerned.

The San Diego novelist wonders if we will “return to normal” without having learned anything from the pandemic experience? Hard to say. But I would say it is worth asking ourselves, in this in-between moment, what have I/ we learned in this time? What were the valuable lessons?

And even if you don’t attribute the pandemic to an “act of God” (I don’t) what may God have been trying to tell us through the experience?

Please do feel free to respond to these questions with your own thoughts and reflections, if you so inclined. You can use my websites contact form or email me at anthonybrobinson@comcast.net. Perhaps I’ll share your thoughts in a future blog.



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