HINDSIGHT IS (THE YEAR) 20/20

Hindsight always offers a broader, deeper perspective. We’ve been “Covid-ing” for over a year. What do we know now that we could not have foreseen at the beginning of 2020? How have we changed, what have we learned, and is there any good news in The Time Of Covid?

Social distancing, closed schools, masks-masks-masks, hand-washing, formerly indoor gatherings being held outdoors, no dining in and lots of take-out, Zooming for work, school, play. All of it can – and has – become a “normal” way of life.

The virus has lasted a lot longer than anyone thought it would. Those who suspected we might be in this for the long haul hoped they’d be proven wrong, and were prevented from speaking up even if they wanted to. Those who couldn’t face the truth gave us “happy talk” until we eventually saw right through it. This was a lesson in transparency, or rather, the lack of it.

Phrases and words like “new normal” and “uncharted territory” and “unprecedented” have been so overused they have become practically meaningless. Except they actually describe our lived experience.

Covid-19 is killing a lot more of us than anyone dared to imagine. I remember being utterly horrified by the number 100,000. Now we’re on our way to half a million dead. And it’s not just those half a million lives that have been affected; it’s half a million families and communities who have been left devastated. The math is exponential and unfathomable. And yet, here we are.

It’s not a simple thing battling a pandemic. It requires trustworthy information, and the cooperation of everyone. Otherwise, the virus wins.

The truth, facts, data, science, common sense, basic manners, reality…they all matter. The war that has been waged on truth is a war on us and our survival.

We actually need a government that works. Those who’ve disparaged the “intrusion” of government into our personal lives, those who have put every obstacle in government’s path, those who have cannibalized and gutted entire segments of our government when we needed them most – will most likely not be held to account. It behooves us to exercise our collective memory and never allow this to happen again.

Our rituals around death and dying can go through massive transformation overnight. We’ve learned (if we didn’t already know it) that we dread being alone at the moment of our deaths, and we don’t want this for our loved ones either. We all want for our lives to have mattered enough for someone to be there when our time comes.

We are experiencing a global, long-term trauma and the grief that naturally follows. Even if we haven’t lost a loved one to this dreadful disease, we are all grieving life as we once knew it, what I call “the before times.”

Some businesses might never recover, some actually didn’t. Whole industries and sectors of the economy have been forced to consider a different way of surviving in this brave, new world, in many cases learning to “take it virtual”. Those who don’t evolve, perish.

We should have bought stock in Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Acorn, any company streaming new programming. Oh, and Zoom.

We can put up with a lot, but not with The Worst four years of a racist, misogynistic, greedy, xenophobic, narcissistic president in the history of our republic. Especially not during a deadly pandemic. We apparently have our limits, even if only by a nerve-wracking margin of several million.

Our political norms are just that: norms, based on decades- and centuries-old traditions and habits. Not rules or laws. Perhaps some of these norms need to be codified, because the extent to which they were ignored during the last administration almost broke our democracy and, complicated by the pandemic, killed tens of thousands of us needlessly.

Even with the grinding, daily concerns of Covid, our other big problems didn’t magically go away. The Universe did not cut us a break.

Global warming is still an existential threat. Dramatic shifts in how we live, move about, grow our food, light up the world when it’s dark, heat it when it’s cold, cool it when it’s hot, are needed…ten years ago. We should be in crisis mode with this threat to the same extent we are with the virus.

Racism/white supremacy in the United States is a virus that has been with us much, much longer than Covid. It was with us at the birth of our nation. We fought a Civil War over it that nearly split our country in two. It morphed into a virulent stain on our nation’s conscience during the Jim Crow era, showed signs of defeat during the Civil Rights era (but merely went underground for many decades), and resurfaced into a full-blown, out-in-the-open plague under the “leadership” of this last president. Why does this matter as far as Covid is concerned? Because once again, black and brown and native peoples get sick more, die more and get the help they need to merely survive less. We may all be in the same storm, but we are clearly not all in the same boat.

People whose work we call “essential” get paid shit. Shame on us. We are in dire need of reassessing our priorities.

Teaching our children – our future generations and thus, the future of our species and planet – is a calling. But not all parents are “called.”

Sitting at a table with good friends or new ones, unmasked, breaking bread, clinking glasses and wishing each other good health, was a beautiful thing we did, perhaps without paying much attention TO its beauty, or its specialness. I miss it. There’s a long list of people, experiences and things I will never take for granted again.

Touching and hugging are essential, and not getting enough of these simple human gestures and tactile connections can be detrimental to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

Being an introvert is a super-power. Sadly, this is a super-power I don’t have.

We are resilient. And thank freakin’ goodness! Not one of us likes this, but those of us who didn’t think we could…can…and did…and still do!

We take care of each other in small, big and beautiful ways. We continue to reach out to our family, friends, neighbors, colleagues. In the face of physical disconnection, isolation, and legitimate concern for our own safety, our generosity and compassion are strong.

Our pets are better companions than we could have dreamed, and they’ve literally saved us from ourselves.

Even when you can’t share a movie in a dark theater, eat a fine dinner at a crowded and popular restaurant, sit right next to each other, hug, kiss, or even hold hands, romance still finds a way.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and not all of them wear uniforms.

There is some good news, after all.

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