New routines, new challenges, new realities.
Suddenly we’re confronted with a drastic change to our everyday lives. Change is difficult in the best of times. Add an unknown challenge with no clear-cut resolution to the mix, and it becomes something else altogether.
Even those of us who are introverts by nature can feel the sea change we are all experiencing. For the first time in a long time all of us are dealing with the same situation. And, as with all humans, we deal with that same situation in different ways.
Isolation isn’t something new to me. The majority of my time is spent with BeBe and Toby, my canine family. I do work and have personal interactions, but not in the same way as those in retail, manufacturing or service industries. I do shop, have friends and participate in gatherings.
To suddenly see the shell-shocked look on the faces of strangers as I wander the aisles of the store has been jarring. To feel the urge to shake hands or give someone a hug, and then realize that wouldn’t be prudent is shocking.
I’ve long thought of the gradual changes that our society has gone through in my lifetime. This sudden change will reorder things and what emerges may be different than any of us can imagine. None of us could imagine this.
The divisions among us that have become more pronounced over the past several years in some ways seem so inconsequential now. One of the things I fear will remain and become part of the new reality is our distance from one another.
We’ve already seen a shift to distrust each other. Now that we have been cautioned about the consequence of touching, will that shift to distrust become a chasm that will eventually be too wide to breach?
Over the years, touching has become questionable. And, to be clear, I’m separating inappropriate touching from the connection most humans yearn for and need. Teachers aren’t supposed to hug their students anymore. Strangers shake hands in a wimpy way to add distance to the meeting.
Kids are more involved in techno-activities than playing on the jungle gym, slide or swing set with their friends sans parental hovering. Playing hopscotch, jumping rope, tether ball, or other outside activities seem more of a distant memory than a current reality.
Touching and connecting with our fellow human is becoming suspect. We’re more cautious, more judgmental, and more distant from our own species. We find fault first, commonality second. We find ways to separate from family, friends and neighbors, many times using politics, socioeconomic, geographic excuses.
I consider myself an average toucher. I hug my friends and family. I’ve hugged people who were strangers, but became connected to me during a first meeting. I’ve hugged a doctor or a nurse who helped me. I’ve hugged a teacher. I’ve hugged a co-worker or subordinate when they were happy or in pain.
I hope we rediscover the beauty, and necessity, of connecting with our fellow human during and after this crisis. Maybe that will be one of our new realities.