Lots of articles and conversations about the decline of COVID. It may be a temporary decline, but we’ll take it, right? Thank God for vaccines and science.
Do you find yourself changed? I’m sure that depends on many things—where you live, if you got COVID and how bad it was for you, how introspective you are. I think many of us, though, walked unwittingly into this pandemic as one person and are walking out of it another.
I’m changed. Not just from having it and dealing with long-tail symptoms for—well, far too long. I’m changed from the many quiet days and nights, from observing how people I knew dealt with the whole situation from masks to social habits, from thinking about life in general.
I said to a friend over dinner the other night, “I knew 2022 was going to be a year of change. And they’ve begun, those changes. But more to come.” She asked me what and I mentioned my new job, as well as finally being able to exercise a bit more as I continue to aim for health beyond long-tail COVID symptoms. I also mentioned friends. While not wishing anyone ill, I’m trying not to fight the Universe’s clear messages on who belongs in my circle and who I need to move away from to make room for the new.
We get so used to our patterns and habits, don’t we? And yet COVID and the many hours it gave me to think allowed me to recognize that the habitual—while comforting—isn’t necessarily always healthy. A river flows and where it doesn’t, we see (and smell) putrid stagnation. Life is the same. It doesn’t mean a constantly changing cast of characters for most of us, but change is inevitable. And sometimes good, even when uncomfortable.
It appears I’m not alone in my ruminations. The New York Times’ Sunday Review ran an article on studies underway to decipher the difference in response to COVID by different immune systems. They’re linking it to genes, which is what I’ve suspected all along. I joked with the friend that brought COVID to me at the earliest stages of the U.S. pandemic that my heritage was at fault (I’m basically one huge recessive gene. Seriously, I don’t think I have a dominant one in the bunch. I had to marry a man with all dominant genes just to give my offspring a fighting chance. Sheesh, the things a girl will do for her kids.) By heritage, though, I meant my gene pool. My immunity has always been less than ideal. I’ll catch the cold or flu in a room where others get off scot-free.
Near the article, the NYT published quotes from readers on how they were feeling after two years of the pandemic. The responses were so wonderfully human and varied. One Montreal woman said, “My inner mother was reactivated and is ordering me about: Time for a bath. Get out of the jogging pants. Make a list of projects.” A New York man said: “The days that I can eat Taco Bell and not worry about how bad it is for me have come to an end.” An Oregon woman mused about re-entering the dating scene, saying she hadn’t lost hope for a better future. And a Pennsylvania woman said she now spends one week of every three in bed, floored by long COVID.”
I must admit, that last one makes me nervous. I’m using all sorts of medical voodoo to continue to gain health and lost footing in the energy and vitality areas of my life. Not really voodoo, of course, but treatments that traditional medicine is not fully there on yet. Traditional medicine has been a waste during this period. It’s only the more experimental bits I’ve tried (under the supervision of doctors, of course) that have helped me.
In my humble opinion (it’s my blog, so why not), if you haven’t let the pandemic change you, think hard on that. And if it’s only changed you for the worse—you’re less tolerant or more depressed—fix it. Seriously. I’m not saying that from any moral high ground. I’m just being brutally honest. I’m still fighting to reduce inflammation, lose weight and be able to exercise regularly. That means eating humble pie on workouts and other things. But I’m not running away from the hard stuff. I’m moving through it.
Don’t fight having to dig deep on friendships. I have had to look seriously at who I want in my life. Those who rolled their eyes and complained about masks and posted incessantly on social media railing against precautions for the common good—well, they’re likely unfriended on social media and probably also in real life. I don’t wish them ill. I just don’t need that attitude in my life. If grandmothers in the Ukraine can pick up arms to fight for their families and freedom, you can wear a mask and be gracious about it. Just sayin’.
Don’t fight the urge to remake your space. Less stuff, less fluff. More substance, more joy. Beautiful or useful? Keep it. Neither? You probably don’t need it—and somebody else could probably use it.
Don’t fight the feeling that the clock is ticking. It is. I’m still trying to decide if I’m writing the Great American novel or if tiny joys in my every day are my new calling. Either way, I’ll commit when I know. I’m going to have to live on into that answer. But I don’t have forever—and neither do you.
Emily Dickinson wrote: “I am out with lanterns, looking for myself.” We all should be right now. Big things should change us. Pandemics. Wars started by global bullies. (Every morning, the first thing I do is check on Zelensky. Before coffee, before brushing my teeth, before my feet hit the floor. You too?) Losing people we love. And of course, the good stuff. Discovering a new hobby. Reading books that truly change our perspective. Meeting someone who takes our breath away. That last one is a tall order but like the woman from Oregon, I try not to lose hope.
I used to focus heavily on what comes next. Almost incessantly. It takes a lot of energy—and life’s curveballs make it a dicey bet. During the pandemic, I had to master what’s now. Stay in the moment. Allow things to unfold rather than always trying to make them happen.
I must admit, I’m beginning to enjoy what’s now. Stay in the moment, friends. Let it unfold. I can’t wait to see (and hear) where it takes you.