Over a year ago I wrote in my column that our world would exit from our Covid experience a different world than we were when we entered it. At the time I knew my prediction was a safe one. I just didn’t know how long before the exit would begin.
We are now experiencing the “exit” mode. And we wake up today in a forever changed world, one none of us could not have imagined when we woke up on New Years Day 2020.
Each of us has a Covid story to share; a personal journey we have traveled. If you want to strike up an emotional conversation ask anyone, even a stranger, “What has been your Covid experience?” or “What do you think about this Covid stuff?” and then listen for the next fifteen to thirty minutes.
Let me share with you several words I would use to describe the journey we have all been on and why I believe the words are relevant.
The first word I would use is the word “fear.” I don’t think any of us has made it through this pandemic without some level of fear, even if it has been at the low end of the scale. At the front end of Covid and in the months to follow we experienced fear for many reasons.
We asked questions like “Will I make it through this?” followed by “Will my loved ones make it through?” Uncertainty of the future creates fear. We have all been on a journey of uncertainty. Our uncertainty looks totally different in the rear view mirror than it did out the front window back in March of 2020.
Another word I would use is “stress.” Life is basically a stressful experience to begin with. Add a wild card like Covid and everyone’s “stress meter” jumps. Do I leave home? Will I have enough toilet paper? Can I find a place to buy hand sanitizer? Do I wear a mask? Do I bump elbows? If I share my views on what is occurring do I offend others? Do I get vaccinated?
The questions can separate relationships even with family whom we love deeply. From global views of how we need to behave to specific interactions with a stranger, we feel stress not knowing what the other person is thinking. Even today the mask and vaccination issues linger.
It has been hard to know who to listen to...still is today. We won’t know what we have done wrong during this pandemic for many years to come. Then we will look back and ask why we couldn’t figure it out at the time.
Another word I would use is “flexibility.” I am a proactive planner. This applies to many aspects of my life. For example I have vacations planned out a year in advance. It is hard to plan for the future when you don’t know what it looks like.
Given the choice of not making plans or making plans and then being flexible, I chose the latter. I want to enjoy life to its fullest in the short days I have on this planet.
Over this past year I have assumed activities would happen and planned accordingly. It has been easier to cancel plans at a later date than to put plans together at the last minute. Every one of our lives have had events that have not occurred because of Covid.
I would use the word “faith.” Over the history of our lives, gathering with our faith family has been where we turn when terrible experiences occur. From Pearl Harbor to 9/11, people of faith gather in the aftermath and seek wisdom from their God.
Covid shut down religious gatherings leaving us to lose the company of like minded believers for a period of time. Each of us had to reconcile the pandemic with our faith beliefs.
I would use the word “isolation.” One of the saddest parts of our journey through Covid has been not being able to hug our elderly loved ones. Since those with medical conditions were the most likely to succumb to the virus, all of the elderly were immediately put at risk.
The elderly were isolated at a time in their lives when they needed the loving of others more than ever. It is very sad to me that many have passed from this planet living the last months of their lives without being able to sit together and interact in person with their family.
The word isolation also applies to many of us who seemed “locked in our own homes” for a period of time. For a period of time we were each “sentenced” to our own homes.
I would use the word “politics.” We live in a highly divided nation politically. Covid hit at a time with political battles were on fire as well as racial battles. It has been hard to separate politics from Covid. Politics involves people and parties seeking to gain or to maintain power. Since Covid could assist candidates and parties in this process, it was hard to know what was factual and what was being used as a political tool.
Each of you reading this could come up with other words that equally summarize our experiences in the pandemic. I am missing many other appropriate words, but just functioning day to day has been a challenge with all the added variables we have experienced.
Life would have been difficult the past 16 months without Covid. With Covid it has been especially difficult. And our pandemic challenges are not over and may never be over.
For example, my wife and I like to travel internationally and have scheduled a trip to visit nine European countries next summer. Who knows what we will need to do to meet the post Covid requirements of each of the countries we intend to travel through. We have both had Covid and been vaccinated because of our international travels.
Bottom line, our world has changed forever.
My challenge to you today is to find ways to experience life as fully as possible in the “new normal” while being aware that the virus is still impacting lives. I believe there are things each of you need to be doing with the days you are living. Covid has been used as an excuse for long enough now. For many it is time to take life off hold.
We must be respectful of this life changing virus, but let’s see if we can get to a place where Covid is a stepping stone, not a deep hole we can’t get out of. Don’t forget the past, but overcome it with the present and the future.
You will be sharing your Covid stories until your dying breath. That’s alright. But when asked what did you do with your life after Covid, make sure your story is not hindered by your journey through the pandemic.
And may God bless you abundantly in your days ahead.
Just a thought...
This column is dedicated to those of you who have lost loved ones to Covid. Your exit from Covid has dimensions that words cannot describe.
Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.