So, here we are. We’re finally starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
I know that’s some cliche you’ve heard every couple of weeks for the past year and a half, but I mean it this time. I can start to see the finish line.
Vaccine rollout in Madison is starting to make some headway with UW students. Granted, even if you are eligible, making a vaccine appointment is harder than getting into Brats on a Thursday, but hey, the vaccines are here. Come fall, we’ll be sweating and spitting all over each other while “Jump Around” plays through the speakers of Camp Randall … Knock on wood.
So, while we all sit by our computers refreshing UHS and Walgreens for vaccine appointments, I thought I’d take a moment to make some enemies.
So, here it goes; my hot take: There are some things about this past year that I’m going to miss.
I know, I know, don’t write angry Letters to the Editor all at once — just hear me out.
I think we shouldn’t be too hasty to rush back to our lives pre-pandemic and discard every adjustment we’ve had to make this past year. There are a couple things I think we should take with us.
Spending more time unplugged: How many loaves of banana bread did you make last summer? How many preschool-level water color paintings? Did you get back into friendship bracelet making? What about reading for pleasure? Taking an online workout class? Going on hikes? Last year, on a given afternoon you could find me at home, sitting in bed, watching some crappy TV show and trying to wind down from my busy day full of human interaction. But now, when I want to stay in bed all day, I’m going to try and remind myself that there was once a time where all I dreamt of was leaving my house and partaking in weird and simple activities.
Being kinder to yourself: There hasn’t been something more globally devastating than this pandemic in our lifetime. Not one single person hasn’t been affected in some way by COVID-19. With so much going on and everyone feeling so hopeless, I think we all let ourselves take a deep breath, compare our problems to the bigger picture, and let go of the little things. You got a C on your math test? You were teaching Calculus to yourself over the screen of your iPad from your bed at home, in a city 3 hours behind Madison. Missed an assignment? You watched as an innocent man was murdered on video, sparking worldwide civil unrest and deep, soul-crushing sorrow. It’s hard at times to see the bigger picture, to focus on what isn’t right in front of you. But when we’re faced with unimaginable circumstances, it’s good to give yourself a break. That shouldn’t be something we forget once life goes back to normal.
Care about strangers: There’s nothing more unifying than shared trauma. I know that’s not something you want to bond over, but it’s the truth. Never have we been able to sympathize so deeply with so many people worldwide, who we never knew existed. Never have we signed as many petitions, walked in so many marches, sat in on so many demonstrations in support of a family hundreds of miles away, who we will likely never meet but who we will now forever carry in our hearts. Never have we sacrificed so many personal freedoms on behalf of the greater good; to save a life we’ll never meet. I’m guilty of being too self-centered at times; I think we all are. The “you shouldn’t complain about X because somebody else is dealing with Y” mentality has never made someone’s problems actually feel smaller. But when something so devastating happens in front of the entire world, it’s different; it just is. I think it’s important that we keep caring about people we’ll never meet.
Of course, the list of things I want to forever leave behind is 500 times the size of things I want to take with me — I’m not a sadist. All I’m saying is there’s room in your mental suitcase to bring a couple things with you when you’re able to walk maskless into a crowded lecture hall and sweat on the stranger next to you at Camp Randall.