so, you didn’t “utilize” the pandemic. now what?

You didn’t start exercising from home consistently.

And you didn’t become a baking wizard.

You didn’t learn a new language.

And you barely succeeded at getting your kids into online learning.

Now what?

Our dear Gwyneth Paltrow made a full on list of suggestions as to how you could best spend your time in lockdown. From writing a book, to learning an instrument, Gwyneth suggests that the time we spent self-isolating, in quarantine, was better served becoming better ourselves by utilizing the time that was now “at our disposal”.

Disposable time. Can you think back to any time in your life that you just had too much time on your hands? And was that really what the pandemic provided us? So much time that we didn’t know how to use it? Like being afforded unlimited wishes?

As the province of Ontario prepares to allow certain regions to reopen this weekend in what they call Phase II, those grains of sand that seemed to lay still at the top of the hour glass will begin to once again feed their way to the bottom. Time, it seems, will surge. Suddenly, you’ll be bustling with your patio dates, and your children back in Daycare, and you’ll get your hair cut, and your nails done. And you’ll be able to gather with the neighbour over a pint in the shadows of a roaring campfire. And the pandemic lockdown will start to shift and eventually feel like a thing of yesteryear. Slowly, things will take on a revised and modified normal. So what then?

What will have come of the weeks, and subsequent months, of 2020 when you had “all the time in the world to do what you’d always wanted“. Did you start your Youtube channel? Clean your garage? Did you fix that leaky faucet? Rehang those blinds, or learn to knit?

Or did you simply just get through it?

Did you just manage to get through the winter that leapfrogged into summer without warning? Did you just spend the days just waking up every morning and adjusting to what was in front of you?

I think perhaps the misconception about the lockdown was that we were afforded a new lease on the way we did things. We were “granted this time and opportunity” to “spring clean the excuses” and “do the things we’d filed under if I ever get the time”.

No, I think the pandemic scared us all into submission. We watched the news stories, and the changing landscape of our society. We watched our businesses close, we feared for our loved ones. We grieved for the dead. We grappled with anger, and frustration. We poured our minds, and our thoughts into the pages of social media. We were asked hard questions. We checked our privileges. We faced our fears. We had hard conversations. We budgeted differently, monopolized our time differently. We parented differently. We challenged ourselves, and our peers, and our moral compasses. We consumed, bred, fed, and berated the news wheel, and the media train, and the Twitterverse. And we circumvented a new version of ourselves without ever having realized we were doing it.

You didn’t have to start a website, or sweep under the couch, or plant a new garden, or become a master of cooking to become the new human you are.

The pandemic provided us all with something that will last inside of us far beyond the apocalyptic 2020. We were all tested beyond our wildest measures. We were all microscopically exposed to our very cores. We now know who we are. Where are priorities are. What our survival instincts are. We all know now how we handle crisis, loneliness, grief. We were faced with a changing global landscape. Our core values were rubbed raw. Our political stances. Our social justice stances. Who we are. The pandemic forced us to look inward. Pause, and look inward. How you adopted the normal the pandemic provided is a personality trait you will take with you in the days and weeks and months following. How you navigate “Phase II”. How you navigate the rest of your life.

You did become a different person, after all.

— c ☆

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