Every day it seems like all of us become more “accepting” of the pandemic situation in our lives. Things that seemed utterly incomprehensible and beyond the pale a few short months ago are now almost taken for granted. Masks. Social distancing. Working from home. No eating out. No large gatherings. No live music. No travel.
Even at the beginning of all of this, I’ll bet many of us were simply in a state of disbelief, not realizing how ingrained the privations would become, and how quickly! We literally couldn’t wrap our minds around the possibility that these intrusive measures would become “normal” a few months later.
I remember feeling something similar after 9/11. I was in my 30’s with 2 children in preschool. I remember picking them up from school early that day and constantly looking up, fearful of what I might see. I remember the silence in the sky for weeks afterward, the eerie emptiness of airplanes, something so normal and every day, that you don’t even notice them until they’re missing. Their absence was jarring. And then all of the TSA travel restrictions began. I remember thinking, going through the “new” airport security processes and feeling like I was being assaulted each time, “Oh, this is only temporary, this won’t go on forever.” Wow, do I feel like a dope admitting that thought. Not only did the high level of security persist, but it also actually increased (there was a time in the not too distant past when air travelers did NOT have to remove their shoes to pass through security).
And now, 20 years later, airport security is simply something we all take as a matter of course in order to travel. It just took some time and perspective until it was ingrained into our psyche.
Is the same thing happening with the pandemic and affiliated major changes in how we live our lives? The very things we couldn’t believe were happening to us at the beginning are now starting to feel normal. Do you feel odd when you see people NOT wearing masks? Standing too close? Even thinking about being in a crowd?
I suppose it is conditioning to some extent, and acceptance to some degree. We are resilient and flexible and, given enough time, seem able to adapt to any situation. Like most of us, I hope that at some point soon we can try to regain our “old normal,” and that these changes won’t be permanent as the 9/11 changes were. Only time will tell.