Like everybody, I was hoping the summer heat would melt away this pandemic, but it is spreading even more throughout the United States. Unfortunately, it seems now that it will get worse before it gets better.
Staying home, social distancing, wearing masks—is this the new normal? What is normal anyway?
Everybody’s normal is different. The frontline workers’ normal is completely different from parents homeschooling their kids. A parent in a nursing home and a gardener each has their own normal.
Although our situations differ, we are bound together in dealing with this pandemic. The world is also changing as a result of the virus, in some ways for the better. People are experiencing how much more convenient it is to talk to their doctors via telemedicine than to sit in a waiting room with other sick people.
Businessmen, lawyers, and other white-collar workers are spared commuting time and enjoying more family time. Fewer cars on the road also means less pollution. My niece told me she is more conscientious about using all of the food in her fridge before buying more. Many people are reading more, spending time in nature, and enjoying the outdoors.
The new elbow-to-elbow and namaste greetings have replaced clammy handshakes or having to kiss someone you hardly know.
Less pollution combined with clear spring skies have enabled Germany to reach a new peak in solar electricity production. In Thailand, where beaches are unusually empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, authorities have found the largest number of rare leatherback sea-turtle nests in two decades.
I hope all these positive changes to the environmental are the beginnings of a new normal in climate change.
But the deeper question is: Who wants to live a normal life, anyway?
Many people would be happy to go back to pre-pandemic times, when they didn’t have to worry about their jobs and their health or their families.
We can never go back. Life is always changing. There is a Sanskrit saying Navo navo bhavati—every moment is born anew.
We can’t go back to the old normal, and we can’t know when this pandemic will be over. Therefore, our best course of action is to enjoy the blessings we have in the present. The wise say that the here and now is ultimately all that we have. All of us need to sit tight on the present ride and enjoy every moment as the new normal. I would love to hear your suggestions to help people to get through this time.