Guest Columnist

What has the pandemic given us to keep?

Seniors pass by in the senior class parade on Country Club Parkway in Cedar Rapids on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Andy Abeyta
Seniors pass by in the senior class parade on Country Club Parkway in Cedar Rapids on Friday, May 15, 2020. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

This novel coronavirus may hang around with nasty potency for a couple more years. Worse, having COVID-19 may not establish expected immunity. This is its first wave, and we are racing toward 120,000 deaths. Multiple waves often accompany such virus outbreaks, and they can be much more deadly than the first. Our coerced dance with coronavirus is far from over.

Still, let’s look beyond it. We’ve had to make many adaptations. We’re using new protocols and processes to conduct both mundane and significant aspects of our lives. Some of us want to get back to an old normal. We all will have to get comfortable settling into a new normal.

Much of this coronavirus amusement park ride we’d like to abandon; but some of our new activities and processes we’d certainly like to keep. We ought to ask ourselves what we found to like in this pandemic and so maybe like to continue.

This is my list; please feel welcome to share yours.

I liked not having my 29-mile, one-way commute.

I liked seeing performers live via social media. Some of these artists I had not ever seen live. Others I hadn’t seen live in quite some time.

I liked the parades — mass drive-bys to celebrate someone’s birthday or graduation.

How about the Italian and New York musicians who, under lockdown, stepped onto their balconies and performed for their neighbors?

In a similar vein, how about local bands that offered concerts at the end of driveways?

I liked talking more often to my neighbors and seeing more people walking (and usually keeping good social distance.)

And what about Elisha Nochomovitz, who, under lockdown in southern France, ran two marathons (a week apart) on his balcony, 23 feet at a time?

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I liked those who, visiting relatives in their homes or care centers, stood on lawns and interacted through closed windows.

I liked small businesses, attempting to save their livelihoods, morph quickly to deliveries, curbside pickups, and other adaptations that tried to keep their employees paid and their operations afloat.

I liked the individuals with enough comfort in their own skin and enough empathy for community to wear masks in public, maintain social distance, and realize that extraordinary times may cause disruptions in routine behaviors (but that those disruptions can be navigated for the good of all.)

I liked developing a stronger appreciation for all the people I could not see, all the places I could not visit, and all the activities I could not attend.

I liked this pressed Pause button that allowed multiple cleansings, purging cobwebs in my mind and clutter in drawers and closets.

I laughed at the derby team, dressed up as dinosaurs and unicorns, rolling jovially along city streets.

I scratched the ears of pets newly employed as office assistants.

I enjoyed having a heightened sense of gratitude.

I loved those who believed in science.

I appreciated having time to witness spring’s awakening.

I reveled in the fact the Cubs had not yet lost a game.

Patrick Muller is a visual artist living in Hills.

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