I used to know a woman who wouldn’t throw away a few spoonfuls of food from the serving dishes at lunch or afternoon tea. She would ask if any of us wanted the rest, and if the answer was no, she would sigh and eat the remainder herself even though she wasn’t hungry. And although she was well off, she unwrapped the brown shipping paper and string from parcels and kept them in a special cupboard to reuse. These curious behaviors made perfect sense to me when I was told she’d lived in Germany during World War II as a young girl. She saw the world through a World War II lens.
So when we ask ourselves, “Does everything have to be about the coronavirus?” The answer is, “Well, yes.”
Because even when it’s not about the virus, it really is. And it always will be. Our world view has shifted. Everything from here on out will be viewed through a coronavirus lens. Take TV shows, for example. It’s jarring to see normal programming now. “They’re standing too close to each other!” we say. “They’re casually touching. Stop!” We’ll never look at a crowd the same way, even when we are fine being smack in the middle of one.
To be honest, the pandemic brought out my inner germaphobe. I had always wondered why we shook each other’s hands. It seemed unwise. Shouldn’t we be bowing instead? What about saluting? No, not saluting. Perhaps a pleasant finger wiggle wave? Before this all happened I predicted that some illness or other would spread and we would stop shaking hands. But like everybody, I’ve predicted a lot of things over the course of my life, knowing not all of them would come true. So it was jarring when this one did.
Someday things will change and the coronavirus won’t be at the top of everyone’s minds. But it has changed us. Like the Great Depression, World War II, 9/11, and many other events large and small, we have a different context now.
What curious behaviors will we develop in the years to come? What thoughts, what fears? Will future generations nod understandingly when told we lived through the coronavirus pandemic? That remains to be seen. All I know is that I hope some good emerges after all the pain and struggle, and I wish you the best in the days and years to come.
We Grew Tales, a collaboration of speculative fiction, humorous, and literary tales is now available for purchase.