We are only few weeks into the lockdown, I am about to leave my house to go grocery shopping. It is still cold outside (Ontario March!), but I am driving, so I’m used to just grabbing my keys and credit card, and jogging to the car and from the car to the store entrance. I am about to do the same thing, and then I pause… and realize that there is a very high likelihood of me standing in line outside the store, waiting to get inside. The store clerks disinfect each shopping cart, and closely monitor the number of people inside.
I put the keys down, and put on my winter jacket. Then I grab few reuseable grocery bags, and… stop again. Those are not allowed right now. Brand new plastic bags only.
Finally, IN winter jacket, and WITHOUT shopping bags, I make it to the car, and eventually, the grocery store.
What has been fascinating to me in retrospect, observing this little prep dance unfold is how matter-of-fact my brain was feeling about those things. It was no different than realizing it’s raining, and grabbing an umbrella.
The new way of shopping felt almost… settled. Just like seeing masked people no longer seems jarring.
[By the way, seeing completely naked people walk around at Burning Man only seems strange for a day or so. After that they sort of blend into their surroundings, and by the end of the week, you don’t even blink as hundreds of naked people go by during the naked bike ride.]
We are taught that “settling” is a bad thing. It is taking less than what you deserve, agreeing to something less than satisfactory.
“Don’t settle”, we say to a friend, clinking our glasses over that stupid thing their partner did.
But, there is also that other definition of “settling” – it’s to become calmer, or to come to rest, adopt a more steady style of life. Like the water settles in a lake.
And while humanity is far from any sort of rest as of late (and rightly so), it does feel as if a more steady style of life is here. Perhaps, this is what some referred to as “the new normal”.
At the same time, SOME things are coming back – slowly, so slowly. Ontario has entered Phase Two of re-opening last week, and yesterday I spotted people sitting on the patio and drinking cider over the weekend. This morning, I dropped off my toddler at daycare (!!!), and listened to the radio report of traffic (!!) on local highways.
Glimpses of “the old normal”. Once again, we are working on “settling” – the new and the old.
I don’t know what that blend will look like quite yet, but I am hopeful.