As states begin making plans to “re-open” (some already have), it has gotten me thinking: How do we want to shape our New Normal?
I frame the question that way because if I asked: What do we want to keep from this time of shut down? The answer would most likely be “Nothing!”
But, when you think about it, we can bring some things forward from this time of separation that can help build a more fulfilling New Normal.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that this time hasn’t been problematic. It has been just awful in a whole lot of ways. But, even amid the tough aspects, there are some things worth bringing forward albeit in a modified way.
For example, one thing many people have been doing is telecommuting to work. Of course, people were doing this before the pandemic but the volume of people doing it now is astronomical. While it has its challenges, it also has its benefits. In fact, some people are asking: “Do I really want to get back into that hour plus commute into Boston again when this is all over?”
There would be HUGE benefits to continuing telecommuting if it can be managed by employers and employees. The positive impact on public transportation and traffic would be substantial and that is not even to mention the positive effect on people’s mental health.
There are downsides, of course. It has been a challenge to telecommute for some because working from home isn’t as easy as it sounds with children in the house. Still, I think those difficulties will be mitigated when everyone is able to get out of the house more frequently (school, etc.).
And speaking of kids and other family members, this stay-at-home time has made some people realize how infrequently they ordinarily do just that: stay at home. The workaholic in us has been forced to see how much they ordinarily miss out on and can foresee missing their kids and others when they return to a regular work schedule. When that happens, though, a special effort can be made to carve out more family time.
I should quickly add that I am not unaware that domestic violence has skyrocketed during this pandemic; so stay-at-home has also been catastrophic for some.
Another aspect of this time of closure has been that some people have found time to enhance their interior life by finding new hobbies or enhancing their devotional life in an intentional way. This kind of attention to personal growth is another aspect of our lives that we should bring forward into the New Normal.
Lastly, I have noticed that during this time of pandemic people have become much more oriented to their local community. This is probably because they aren’t traveling elsewhere for work or other reasons, but it does mean that people are paying more attention to local governments and local organizations and that includes churches. I certainly hope that continues into our New Normal.
In many ways, the coming New Normal looks uncertain and even scary. It is important to remember, though, that we can shape what it looks like in more ways than we may realize.
It starts by making sure we hold on to the positive aspects that are woven into this current, very challenging time.