Benns’ Belief: Finding joy in the new normal

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Benns’ Belief: Finding joy in the new normal

In theoretical physics an event horizon is a boundary around a black hole. It is the point of no return in which no light or radiation can escape.

For many people, pandemic life — from a social perspective — is such that we’ve been living ever closer to such a boundary. We are on a damaged starship, if you will, drifting closer to the moment we may slip beyond reach. Mental health has been frayed. Anxiety has intensified. Our human crew is beyond tired.

Roderick Benns, publisher.

Visible to our sensors, though, are those climbing vaccination numbers. They offer hope and reassurance. In truth, they offer light — the very thing this pandemic black hole promises to take from us.

I have no doubt we will eventually push our way back to safety. But when we know we’re safe and base survival is no longer the goal, what is it that remains after being adrift for so long?

People speak of “back to normal” and a “new normal,” but we haven’t had occasion to really live in that space, have we? Is back to normal when our businesses fully reopen, certainly something we all wish to see? Is that good enough to define normal in the 21st century?

Pandemic life has been Zoom and pixelated relatives. It has been gated yards and distant waves of hello. Even when we got outside and passed people on trails, we knew these encounters were not to be lingered over. We passed quickly with fleeting, awkward smiles. We were all travellers; we were all alone with each other.

During these past 15 months of disquiet there were young people who started elementary school or high school. Others graduated and started college or university, their first launch into an uneasy world. People lost jobs. Started jobs. Gave birth. Got married. Got divorced.

They went through major life changes — and not always with the typical supports available, but with a protracted sense of unease for what was to come.

What is to come?

Will well-being be seen as a common front now and less through a personal lens? Will we see health in the security of our community, not just in the shape of our own needs?

Will the sight of a face mask a year from now — more common in Asian nations to guard against seasonal flu — be seen as responsible? Or will it stoke dread, a grim reminder of That Time we wish to forget?

Perhaps the best place to find our “back to normal” is to start with joy, wherever we can find it. The embrace of family. Going to the theatre. The quiet knowing that a dark time in our history really has passed.

We will not be the same people we once were, and that’s all right. We will work to be better — and we must help each other find the light.

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