How is this summer going to be different from all the other summers that have come before? It will be different, because it is new to us. Yes, we have seen plenty of warm summer days, carefree, barefooted, sunsets after 9PM, but we haven't seen those days this year. After all the strain that COVID world has placed on us, this will definitely not look or feel like last summer.
We are coming out of something, as opposed to going into it. We are emerging from an experience which has changed us. Most of us, I ought to say. I have a mentor in Florida, and she is the first to admit she has suffered no trauma or disruption because of COVID. I consider her one of the lucky few.
Naturally, our experiences shape us and our worldview. At this point, I can't take my life or my freedoms for granted. When I went to Florida for four days at the beginning of the month, my first trip during COVID, I felt like I was getting away with something. At first, I thought the trip might get cancelled because of COVID. Then, I looked over my shoulder thinking--am I really allowed to be here? Am I going to get caught? Then, I realized that it is ok to enjoy again and to look forward to things again and to be with other human beings whom I don't know, in the same space. I felt like I was finally letting my guard down.
I was in Florida when I heard the mask mandate had been lifted for those vaccinated. WHAT? I was in disbelief at first. Although I remember it being hard to accept masking at the start of COVID, in some ways, without my mask, I felt like I was walking around in public without pants. Change--change again--and then change back.
All of this is to say that in the post-vaccination world, if not post-pandemic, many of us are just not the same. That is ok, because it so dependent on what kind of experience you and your loved ones had. The question for us all is--so what now? Now that this is coming to an end--what have you learned about yourself, your life, your priorities, your hobbies, your interests? What do you want for yourself moving forward? Is it ok for you to go back to exactly what you left? Or, is it time to reevaluate your priorities and put a finer point on your to do list? Or, is it time to take some of the gifts of isolation and protect them even as the world is opening up? We get to choose because we have been given a second chance. We are the ones who survived, and we are the ones who can rewrite the next chapters based on all that we were--all that we endured--and all that we wish to be.
That's a very sweet spot in the upcoming (out) summer.