If you are anything like me, you have far more questions than answers in your life. Many of these questions are not unique to me or to any of us individually: When will everyone be vaccinated? When will life feel normal? Other questions are far more personal: When will I be vaccinated? When will I find a job? When will I feel safe? When will I see my grandchildren?
Asking these questions offers relief because the questions revolve around time. By focusing on when change will occur (or will not occur), I am able to mentally project myself into a different time and a different place when the frustrations, anxieties, and fears of the present will presumably also be different. That being said, I am reminded that asking the question “when” does not usually assist me in arriving at a different place where anything is, actually, different.
Our schools, businesses, institutions, and country at large continue the long and arduous task of adapting, yet again. A year ago we were adapting to life inside, physically apart from one another. At this time, we find ourselves adapting (or beginning to adapt) to life in closer physical proximity with one another. In this process, I know that I have discovered that I feel more awkward than I anticipated as I encounter social situations I have not since the pandemic because I have lost some experiential knowledge about what it feels like to be with others physically in some contexts, and the ways in which my brain needs to navigate social norms in real time.
As I work to imperfectly traverse this process, I have found other questions are much more helpful: who, what, where, and why, and how? Who am I including (or not including) in the post-pandemic norms I create for myself? What practices might I continue or discontinue in order to support the justice and health of myself and those around me? Why am I feeling the way I am feeling? Why do we always do it this way? How am I going to ensure that the post-pandemic norms I create for myself and those around me are more just, prudent, and healthy?