Six months ago today, I was told to pack the things I needed from the office and work from home. The virus we had all heard about was here. We knew very little about it besides that it spread easily. Would we be gone for a week? Two weeks? A month? It was impossible to think it would be any longer than that.
Then came the lockdowns. Storefronts darkened and windows in homes illuminated. Grocery shopping became a micro odyssey of caution and fear. We tried new hobbies, reconnected with old friends over video chats and went on walks. Overall, we became more attuned to what was happening, all while discussing the things we normally would be doing but couldn’t, each week deleting more events off our calendars.
And the entire time, the virus was there, far away but so close!
Six months later, we’re in a state where we can do almost anything we want, it just requires more time, thought and attention. Early on, I thought how this could affect other areas of our lives: will we focus more on major decisions that come our way or be so exhausted from the day to day that we just go with the flow?
Two months in, we had an answer.
When video of an unarmed black man being murdered by police was published, protests began in cities across the country and soon spread around the world. If actually dealing with racism in our society had previously seemed impossible, it no longer did. We had seen the impossible happen when society was paused to stop the spread of the virus. And we knew that if a virus threatening your community, you had to deal with it. Now. Distractions and busy schedules could not take us away from dealing with what we saw and the systemic problems in our society.
In the past six months, many realized the world and our country isn’t as they thought it. The government cannot protect you. Racism was not defeated in the 1960s. Institutions cannot solve our problems. We must care for each other and work on changing our actions and thoughts within. This has always been the way the world has operated, but many are now forced to live in it for the first time.
What will the next six months hold? Many look forward to a vaccine and imagine a time when we “return to normal” and life resumes from where it was paused in March. This is a dangerous fantasy. No matter how much we don’t want to face it, we have all been changed in the past six months. There is no going back, we will always have these memories and experiences with us.
For me, I’ve realized what it really means to slow down, to think about just not the small things, but the larger ones as well and how they build on one another. I’ve noticed so much more beauty in the natural world as well as the brokenness that results when we get involved. But there’s also the hope of us reclaiming that beauty, that harmony, and working together to help one another.
If anything, the last six months have showed us that impossible can become real. We’ve all learned again that no one can predict what comes next and how little control we have over our lives. Remember when we thought we would be working from home for just a couple of weeks? As we continue to see the world change outside our window in ways that are hard to comprehend, we should focus on what is happening within each one of us and do the work to grow in a positive direction. At least that’s something we can control.