With the province of Ontario’s recent announcement of its plan for the removal of mask mandates and the easing of pandemic restrictions in the coming months, I wonder to myself if I am really ready for the grand reopening.
In some ways, I think it would be easy to say yes. I’d love to see my extended family and my friends again. I miss going to movies, plays, concerts and museums. I’d love to shop without my glasses fogging up all the time. And fine dining isn’t quite so fine when purchased from a take-out window and soggy by the time you get home.
I also look forward to the day that I can be more spontaneous and run quick errands as the need arises without having to map out detailed logistics including fluid intake, protein bar consumption and the anticipated bathroom breaks.
But after the last two years, I don’t know if I am quite ready to go back to the “old normal” or even the “new normal” as quickly as some other folks.
I don’t say that from a position of fear or even out of excessive precaution. I think it would be fair to say it is out of plain old fatigue. Over the last two years, there has been a lot going on:
My partner and I purchased a house just before the pandemic put North America on lockdown.
I sold my house at the beginning of the pandemic, while the real estate market tried to adapt to circumstances never seen before in our lifetime.
I packed and moved, in the early days of lockdown, worrying about whether I’d have access to boxes (…fortunately, moving supplies eventually met the definition of an essential service!)
Once in the new place, there were repairs to complete. Sometimes the completion of work was delayed by the unavailability of materials due to supply chain issues.
Meanwhile, I was still working, which was a blessing in itself, but for reasons I still can’t quite figure out, the pace ramped up to a degree I had never witnessed before.
And of course, during the pandemic, there were times when we didn’t know from one day to the next what the provincial government allowed to be open or closed. That being the case, I often found myself doing marathon pace errands to ensure we didn’t run short of food, essential supplies or most importantly, kitty litter and cat treats.
On the scale of introvert vs extrovert, I find myself close to the middle line but still in extrovert territory. That being the case, when I dispense a lot of extrovert energy, I need some quiet time to balance things out. In normal life, that is an ebb and flow process that happens in cycles over a few days, a few weeks, or in a worst case scenario, a couple of months.
The never ending uncertainty offered very little in the way of relaxation or quality recovery time.
To me, the last two years were very demanding in terms of extrovert energy, having to be in a state of chronic hyper vigilance even when my batteries were already running low.
I tried to bolster myself by telling myself that this was all temporary, but even my self-care options were limited by the pandemic itself.
Given the extraordinary circumstances posed by the pandemic over two years, why shouldn’t I expect it to take longer to recuperate from cumulative and chronic stress?
I am not complaining about everything I had going on. I am grateful for the changes and experiences that propelled my life forward on a positive trajectory, but who could have foreseen the added complexity of having to do all that during a pandemic.
Now, in retirement, I finally have time to breathe. I am catching up on the books I wanted to read and launching into the writing projects that have been on the backburner for so long. Writing (for the fun of it) has been incredibly therapeutic to have that introspective time to myself and to help me process everything that went on.
I also found benefit in taking care of our rural property, whether cleaning up the yard, weeding the garden or tending to the fruit trees. When working with nature, I felt more grounded, literally, metaphorically and spiritually.
Friends and colleagues have shared with me the unique challenges that they were facing, navigating a myriad of issues stemming from last minute announcements of openings and closings. This applied as much to schools as it did with businesses, or even vaccination roll-out plans, leaving everyone off balance and scrambling.
Even though our collective pandemic experiences may have been different, we all share a common bond in the fact that it presented a challenging struggle for so many and for so many different reasons.
I think it would be safe to say that for me, stepping out of our “bubble” will have to be a gradual process.
It’s not just a question of health and safety, but it is also a question of allowing myself to regain stability and properly bounce back before we embark on what might indeed become a grand reopening. Maybe this will be this century’s version of “The Roaring 20’s”.
Alternatively, maybe for some of us it will be more like the “Recharging 20’s”
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Have a great day,