“In these trying times…”, “During times on uncertainty….”, “The ‘new’ normal…”
If you’re like me, you’ve grown tired of hearing some of these ambiguous and wide-ranging statements that have now become the new and bizarre salutations of the year 2020. Whether it be brands trying to reach us on our screens, our employers stuffing our inboxes or our friends and neighbors chatting across the yard, it seems almost impossible to avoid these cryptic reminders of what has now been a 4 1/2 month-long upheaval of the world as we knew it.
Okay, so let me back up for a minute.
We are living in the middle of a global pandemic – a public health event far more serious than anything I (and I would bet all of you reading this blog) have experienced in my lifetime. During these past few months we as a country have experienced the Covid-19-flavored stages of grief ranging from runs on the grocery store (buy ALL the toilet paper) to shuttering ourselves inside our homes to wherever we are now, all the while counting case numbers and building our personal predictive models to tell us when we’ve all “flattened the curve” enough to resume our normal lives.
Simply put, it’s been rough. I’d have to think that everyone reading this blog has experienced some kind of challenges during this time period. I want to say again that the seriousness and caution that we continue to take should not be understated. Yet, in the midst of all of this, there must be something that pushes us forward. What gives us hope? When we all get through this and we look back on how we coped during this time, what will we see? What got us through it? The answers for me look something like this:
Stopping to See What Was Already Right in Front of Me
It might sound strange, but one thing I will remember about the pandemic is how it brought me out of my house and around people more. (Yes, in a safe socially-distanced kind of way.) This June marked my two-year anniversary of living in my current neighborhood in south St. Louis. Somehow, in those two years, I only managed to meet the neighbors that lived immediately next door or across the street from me. That is, until the pandemic. Somewhere between the video conference meetings and virtual happy hours from home, I noticed my neighbors further down the block would gather in their front yard strapped with lawn chairs and beers in coozies every Friday. And then every Thursday. And then every Wednesday. Before long the lawn chair round table became a habitual meeting of neighbors whenever it was time to quit virtually working for the day. Once I finally had enough courage to approach my neighbor’s front yard, I realized that I had found a group of people that I connected with and otherwise would have probably never met if not for this temporary shut down of the daily routine. If nothing else, one of the positives that I will take away from the pandemic is finding the courage to not stay in self-isolation forever, but instead take a chance and in the end being rewarded for it.
The Hope of Playing Again
It would only be fitting that today, as I write, we have finally reached the resume of major North American sports. From this point out we can only hold onto our seats and hope that the inevitable bumps in the road do not become craters that sink the sports fan’s dream of watching televised sports in 2020 once and for all. Of course, we are just on the heels of a Friday in which 20% of the MLB postponed their scheduled games to trace contact of those Covid-19 positive, so the future may be more uncertain than ever for major sports. But as we return to our living rooms to flip on the game, let’s not forget what it felt like to have no major sports in our reach. Let’s not take our favorite sports for granted. And maybe above all else, let’s not forget what it felt like to hope. Even when things seemed at their worst, (relative to sports resuming) there was always that hope of maybe things will work out. Maybe we will have a season. Maybe things will be better again. It may be a little cheesy, but I know that for me personally this hope is what helped me through the dog days of April and May where I was counting down the days for Bundesliga soccer to resume. And finally, I learned that even with empty seats, fake crowd noise or no games at all, the hope of playing and coming together to follow our favorite teams again is just as real as the games themselves.
Be safe. Here’s to hoping for more Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey, and Mizzou football and basketball in our near future.