People are prohibited to go out of their houses. Children don’t go to school anymore. Parties are banned. Public masses are cancelled. Parking spaces are empty. Malls are closed. Businesses are halted. And transportation has ceased. Teachers don’t go to school anymore. Lawyers are not allowed to go to courts. Employees are forced to work from home.
The examination you have been preparing for years is now postponed indefinitely. The graduation you are most excited about is now uncertain of happening. The vacation you have saved for years is now rescheduled. And the dream wedding you have organized for months is now put off.
And then it happened.
People are panicking. Grocery stores are running out of toilet papers. Restaurants are closed and your favorite fast-food chain only accommodates take-aways. Offices and clinics are closed because clients are afraid to go out. There are no more paychecks but there are still bills to pay and children to feed.
COVID-19 is flooding the news. The police are “gunning” temperature checks. People in the front lines are overworked. Hospitals are cramped. Masks and alcohol are overpriced and PPEs are scarce. Testing kits are inadequate while vaccine remains unavailable. And yet, the number of deaths is soaring and the forecast is gruesome. Because of that, people are starting to be hungrier, more fearful, overly anxious and paranoid. While others are already shifting strategies, most of us are half-denying that this is not permanent. That this too shall pass.
We think that life is just on pause.
But it’s not. We never hit the “pause” button. Life is still playing. The world’s still turning. The sun’s still rising and setting every day. It’s just that the world is reprogrammed to another level. And we are forced to reinvent ourselves in order to endure this new normal. As we face this together, we need to accept that old habits need to die and priorities need to be reconsidered. The world is restructuring itself and we have no option but to follow suit. Otherwise, we will fail as a human and the virus will triumph.
Today, there is more truth to the saying that change is the only permanent thing in this world. All the changes need to be executed as we hesitantly move forward to dread the unknown. Falling in line is a must. Social distancing is an order. And wearing a face mask is like wearing your underwear.
Online shopping is not only a trend but now the new ordinary. Growing your own food is not only a hobby but a necessity. No more hugs, kisses, handshakes, fist bumps, and high-fives. These simple acts of socializing are now considered as taboos as well as eating out, praying together and all other activities in groups. Unsurprisingly, dating will also be challenging but LDRs are highly recommended. Humans, by nature social animals, are struggling to embrace these changes. But there’s no other way.
Still, life should go on.
But it goes on with a brewing fear of our family falling sick. It goes on with us anxiously trying to modify our lifestyles. It goes on with the scientists figuring out a cure. It goes on with the government finding ways. Indeed, it goes on with a lot changes.
And while we adapt to the new normal with the attached challenges, we cannot discount the fact that there are silver linings during this pandemic. I know, it’s difficult to be optimistic at the peak of this crisis but it’s not bad to see the good even in the most difficult situation.
Let’s start from the blue skies and empty roads, less pollution and no flocking tourists. Mountain peaks are starting to be visible and beaches are turning bluer. Mother Earth is finally getting a breather!
Children and busy family members are finally staying at home, laughing and annoying each other. They are making simple home projects and preparing home-cooked meals. They are taking this time to heal and rebuild their relationships. We realize that despite the riches we reap through our work, nothing beats the truth that home is always the most comforting refuge.
Some are using the imposed isolation as an opportunity of self-reflection and a way of finding meaningful peace. We learn that despite our humanistic obsessive-compulsive behavior, we are not always in control.
Strangers are raising money for front liners. The immense volume of donations in cash or in kind is overflowing. People are reaching out for their neighbors. It is kindness and generosity that are sparking their hearts.
People, various institutions and organizations are uniting to work together. And protecting the most vulnerable is their common goal. They are sacrificing their time and putting their lives on the line for the good of the majority.
Different religions are saying the same prayer, offering prayers for everybody’s hope and healing. They are sending the message that for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, God will always be our greatest comfort and strength. As we scramble to make ends meet and struggle to accept this new normal, it is our prayer that with God, humanity will get through this.
And being adaptive humans that we are, today’s feelings of shock and the unknown might be tomorrow’s feelings of comfort and familiarity. For sure, the world will change, and the people too. 🙂
The Backpacking Lawyer is a practicing lawyer and a nurse by profession in the Philippines. While she enjoys her day job, she loves traveling and sharing her adventures and misadventures with you.