First of all, I hope anyone in my age bracket reads today’s title and thinks of this song.
More to the point, whatever “this” is, I’m probably not ready.
In rare cases, I’m known for diving into change. Quite literally, I prefer to dive into a lake and be hit all at once with the temperature change – not wade in and feel the cold slowly creeping up my body.
But in almost every other situation, I like to take my time and feel my way through a transition. Changing careers was a years-long decision. Taking my current job was weeks, if not months, in the making. Even day-to-day, the mornings with reading, thinking, and daydreaming after waking are a better start than having to put my feet on the floor as soon as the alarm goes off.
So, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that after 15.5 months of keeping mostly to myself and sticking mostly to my house, I’m not throwing myself at the chance to visit crowded bars. (I mean, I didn’t generally go to crowded bars even before the pandemic, because it turns out I’m getting quite old and boring. Believe it or not, the photo for this post is 11 years old, but big events do serve an occasional purpose.)
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not being a hermit. In fact, the last week has been especially social. But I am picking and choosing my moments. And a question I’ve had for myself is…why?
I have nuanced thoughts on covid that I don’t really feel like putting into words. In short: You want to go out? Fine. I hope you’re vaccinated and not acting as a breeding ground for variants. You want to stay in? That’s fine too.
I think my “why” is related to my not wanting to be rushed. I’ve enjoyed parts of the pandemic and I’m not ready to completely give up the evening slowness, the unscheduled weekends, the many walks. And while I don’t want all my free time to be spent that way, I don’t want a snapback to “before time” either.
I need some time to figure out which of my new routines are an improvement from my previous life.
When I mentioned some of this to a friend, she thought for a bit and then compared the experience to returning from a long trip. She said it’s like being faced with the questions of “Who am I now? How do I exist in this space I haven’t been in for six months or a year, etc.” Her analogy immediately resonated. (It helps that we’ve both got experience with extended travel.)
I just hope that whatever pace people enter this next phase(s), they feel better.
Physically speaking, I obviously hope fewer people are hospitalized for being ill. Mentally and emotionally, I hope people can begin to feel less angry, less divided, less judgmental. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the early stages of the pandemic were much kinder and gentler: the rainbows in windows, the sidewalk chalk, the noisy celebrations of gratitude for frontline workers.
This last while has been much harder. I know people are tired. I know mental health has suffered greatly. And I know we’re not out of the woods yet. But whatever part of the path you’re on, it’s okay by me. Take your time. Or don’t. But please let’s do take care of ourselves and others.