I keep hearing people say they look forward to “getting back to the way it used to be” after the Covid virus burns out or we are all vaccinated against it. But there are plenty of things I do not want to come back. Let me list a few of them.
1. I do not want the crowded freeways back. Traffic had gotten so bad that Don and I had hermitized ourselves even before we were told to do so. Given the chance to attend a concert or event in a distant city, say in Orange County or Los Angeles, we would say “nope, it’ll take us two hours to get there and two hours back. It’s not worth it” and stay home. The irony now is that the freeways are smooth sailing, but there are no concerts or events to attend. Once people start driving to work again, the traffic will return, unless companies learn that work-from-home is a good option. Maybe we don’t need to go back to the hellish, murderous freeways we used to put up with. Building more freeways is obviously not the solution. Maybe ending commuting to work is.
2. I do not want people’s reliance on restaurants and fast food to return. With time on our hands and limited resources, cooks and bakers are reviving old skills in the kitchen. We are making slow food without additives and preservatives, and even if we are making a lot of carbs like cookies, mashed potatoes and pasta, we are making them from scratch. Some of us are even passing these nearly-extinct skills on to children, since the kids are home anyway.
3. I don’t want hyper-busy-ness to return. Too many of us lead lives of desperation trying to do everything. We fill our hours with meetings, jobs, chores, entertainment, trips, and classes. We feel if we are not constantly doing something then we are lazy, weak, or unworthy. Our recent enforced slow-down has shown many of us the joy of napping, resting, sitting outdoors, appreciating nature, and contemplation. I see families walking the neighborhood together, peacefully and happily. When we were hyper-busy we had no time for that. We had no time to “stand and stare”—just to BE.
4. I don’t want taking our people for granted to return. When we could get together with friends, we didn’t because it was too much trouble, or we didn’t want to bother them because we assumed they were “too busy to see us.” Now that we can’t get together, we yearn for our friends and reach out to them by Zoom, phone, mail or other means. We also realize the importance of people who serve us in hospitals, stores, trucking, and other essential jobs. We used to look down on those workers and we used to idolize celebrities, CEO’s and power brokers. I don’t want to go back to those hollow values.
5. I don’t want to go back to shaking hands. I never liked the practice much. Some people’s hands felt clammy or greasy. Some women gave me that sissy fingertip handshake which I dislike. There is no time of the year when handshaking is a clean practice, even when it is not the middle of a pandemic. I will be happy to substitute a Namaste bow or a smile and head-bob for the nasty old handshake. Let’s not go back to that.
I could extend this list. After all, I have plenty of time. Yes, we probably need to get some businesses functioning and some paychecks in workers’ hands, but we don’t want to go back to the way it was. We were too busy, stressed, ill-fed, traffic-jammed, friendless, and hollow in our old life. Let’s not go back.