This picture was from the last time we visited Legoland in February 2020. Next week, we are going there for the first time in 15 months. Of course, it won’t be the same since the last time we visited. We will have to wear masks and social distance. Some rides won’t be open. But going back there will be one of those slow, stumbling steps towards normalcy.
My wife and I got vaccinated last month. We feel safer, but not completely safe. We know there are people who aren’t vaccinated. For children, like our granddaughter, a vaccine isn’t available for their age group. Some can’t for medical reasons. Others won’t, unfortunately, for political reasons or because of misinformation. We also can’t trust that the politicians aren’t opening things up too quickly. There is always the risk there can be another flare up, another lockdown, or some new variant our vaccines can’t stop.
We also can’t feel safe when the pandemic rages elsewhere in the world. I have colleagues in India, Canada, and Vietnam who are going through major outbreaks. Vaccination is slow going elsewhere in the world. The IOC also insists on having the Olympics in Tokyo this summer, and I dread what will happen when athletes, coaches, and fans take new variants home with them.
I also recognize that normalcy will mean something different from what we had last March. Working from home will now be a permanent thing. Companies have found it makes more sense to have employees skip the commute, and they can save money on office space. As for the release of The Remainders, it will probably be a virtual event. This can help me connect with readers around the world, and not just the ones in my immediate area.
We also find that what we considered normal wasn’t really working for us.
The pandemic has caused us to reassess long-cherished assumptions. Times of crisis expose the inequalities and injustices in our society. Institutions we thought were stable and just are exposed as vulnerable and corrupt. We need to have uncomfortable discussions about our history and our place in the world. These are discussions people would rather not have, but we can’t avoid.
I still think about my appendectomy, the time it took to recover, and the problems with going back to the way things were before I got sick. Returning to normalcy is a long and difficult process. We can never go back the way we were, but we can go to a place where we can function. We can create something new. And in time, what is new will become comfortable, and we will wonder how foolish we were to do things the old way.
We are stumbling towards normalcy. Take it step by step. We will get there.