Friday, March 12, 2021

the path to normal

it's reassuring to see news of COVID-19 infection and death rates falling, hearing about vaccination successes, and reading about leaders' reassurances that this unlock is "one way" and we can firmly put the last 12 months behind us.

the timing couldn't be better, as today is exactly one year since I started working from home, as part of the pre-pandemic precautions by my employer.

it's easy to see normal as the way things were before the pandemic hit: meeting friends and family, traveling for vacations, not having to worry about how close we were to others, or even the chances of infecting each other (one slice of wedding cake shared by 8 people on our wedding day, seems quite unimaginable now!)

but this return to normal is also an opportunity to not normalize things we did earlier without thinking about the consequences. everyone's list will be different, but here's mine:

  • physical activity and the outdoors: i never realized how much my well being is dependent on it. going out is forced on you if you're commuting, but when working from home, it really becomes vital. and that's when I realized the quality of "outdoors" matters - as does the quality of activity when outdoors.
  • food: in the rush of our daily lives pre-pandemic, food often took a backseat. just throw something together, eat it, pack the leftovers for tomorrow, eat in a hurry, eat while working. but one year of working from home and eating from home taught me that there's much more to food than just that. that quick-fixes may give time but take away health and energy in exchange. sometimes immediately, sometimes long-term and subtly. after almost one year of "detox" i can't imagine going back to how things used to be.
  • relationships: one year with shruti, locked indoors for the most part, and with her even when out and about, taught me the value of maintaining healthy relationships. when we can't distract ourselves with other people, or even work, we were forced to focus on what really keeps us going. when we get back to our office lives, socializing with our respective circles, etc., we will never try to use those things as distractions/ways to tide over problems in our relationship. it's more difficult, but more rewarding.
  • free time: this year has given me more free time than ever. at the start, I pretty much ran out of things to do! not any more. I have learned to focus on things that energize me, instead of taking the easy way out and distracting myself.
  • communication: this year has been an overdose of calls, video calls, texting, and also of other less fulfilling forms of communication like forwards, endless scrolling through pointless posts and websites. i have cut down on my "online time" (ironic, given that i'm blogging at the moment) and online distractions to focus on meaningful communication.
I'm sure i'll think of more, but it's time to sleep now.

happy "new normal" to you!

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