“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness
I know that this is far from an original thought during the pandemic, with all of the ways, large and small, that we’ve been required to adapt to the rapidly shifting circumstances.
But yesterday, my perspective shifted a bit and I realized, this has become, well, normal. At least normal for now. It’s normal for me to have my mental list of “things I need to take if I’m going to the store / going on a walk / etc.” And for that list to automatically include “mask”, well, let’s just say that it obviously wasn’t that way this time last year.
It hit me yesterday when I was talking to my second mother. I asked what travel plans they’d canceled (too numerous to list; they’re retired and love to travel [and have the means]), and somehow we got around to people who have stayed with them in the past 6 months. That included a couple who came from Florida, en route to a northern destination. My 2nd mom said something along the lines of “Well, we asked them to wear their masks in the house, and we kept the windows open even though the air conditioning was on.” And it hit me… that it was completely normal to me that she asked them to keep their masks on.
I mentioned to her that I’m likely not going back to the office for at least a calendar year, and again, that’s now, well, normal.
I am perpetually behind on reading others’ blogs, and one thing that’s been really interesting is reading pandemic-related posts a few weeks after they went up. The hardest ones to read were the ones from May, when states were reopening and things looked, well, reasonable. Until it all went south (as, honestly, I anticipated it would) in June. Everyone was so hopeful – looking forward to “getting back to the way things were”. And I think, as we’ve all realized, that just isn’t going to happen.
Adaptation to change is part of being human. If you don’t adapt in some way to changing circumstances, you’re not going to get very far. Evolution. Societal shifts. Changes in the political leadership of our country (although, honestly, I haven’t normalized the person currently in the White House, I find that I have normalized the insanity that emanates from there on a daily basis…). Sometimes this happens so subtly that we don’t realize it’s happening. I think what hit me this weekend was how quickly we had to accept the way things are now had to be.
Anyway, like I said, not an original thought, but it is fascinating to see how it plays out in life.
“There can be no life without change, and to be afraid of what is different or unfamiliar is to be afraid of life.” ― Theodore Roosevelt
I was struggling to find inspiration from my usual sources last week… poems, emails from BrainPickings (seriously, check it out if you have not yet: brainpickings.org), texts from friends… and I was failing miserably. It was one of those weeks where I was seeking the wisdom of others, and yet nothing I read, nothing I turned to (whether old or new) really resonated with me.
Until this weekend. When I read OnBeing’s transcript of Krista Tippett’s interview with Jane Goodall. You know, Jane Goodall, the woman who revolutionized our understanding of chimpanzees…? Reading the interview transcript, one quote stood out to me:
“And I believe, part of being human is a questioning, a curiosity, a trying to find answers, but an understanding that there are some answers that, at least on this planet, this life, this life-form, we will not be able to answer.” (Jane Goodall)