/New normal

New normal

By Chad Ingram

It's Saturday afternoon and I'm walkingalong our rural road with my daughter.

I'm pulling the wagon she started thevoyage in but now it's empty and she is running along beside me pointing outbirds collecting rocks and generally observing the changes the emergingspring is bringing to the county’s wilderness.

She stops to throw twigs into the movingwater of the ditch and I let her do that for as long as she wants because wehave nowhere to be. She starts using her rocks to etch in the dirt and I lether do that for as long as she wants because we have nothing to do reallybesides make dinner later. It takes us nearly an hour to make a round trip ofmaybe a kilometre or so.

A walk quite so leisurely wouldn’t havebeen the case before the pandemic when our life was busy to the point ofhectic at times. Now there are seemingly endless hours to spend exploring ourtiny segment of the world.

COVID-19 will leave in its wake a number oflegacies good and bad and perhaps one of them for some of us will be theability to slow down more to be more fully in the moment. The pandemic willleave behind myriad changes ones that are impossible to see clearly yet whilestill in the throes of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak itself. Certainlyin Ontario it seems evident that one of those changes will be a total overhaulof the system for long-term care homes. It also seems evident that one of thevirus's legacies will be the way we work; that is more working from homewhich our advanced technology allows for many vocations. What about theplexiglass shields that have been installed at checkout counters? Will theybecome permanent fixtures?

It seems likely that social distancing willbecome ensconced in our culture to some degree part of our new normalwhatever that turns out to be. Fewer seats on airplanes less crowdedrestaurants and other such things are being suggested and while some of thosechanges might sound nice they will also make things more expensive forconsumers. Will there be less dining out in general? Will there be lessinternational travel?

Human history has been shaped by crisisoften in the form of war or disease. In the 14th century the blackplague killed nearly a third of Europe's population. The Second World War –which in many ways arguably set the stage for what has been our normal for manydecades now – killed tens of millions redrew international boundaries andchanged the global power structure.

And while the COVID-19 crisis may not rivalthese events in terms of scope it will leave a multi-generational mark. Thingswill never go back to the way they were not completely.

It becomes tiresome to think about and Isnap back into the moment watching Evangeline draw in the dirt. She won'tremember what life was like before all of this. Whatever our new normal is willjust be normal to her.