Has anyone else noticed a shift in the past week, or so? Updates have slowed, this strange way of living has taken on an even stranger sense of normalcy. The question of, 'what kind of people will we be in isolation?' has receded to make way for a new one: who will we be on the other side?
This may be an unpopular opinion (I hope to find out) but I'll miss the selves we've become in the face of this pandemic. I know, the reports of hoarding toilet paper et al. don't speak to the best of the human race but as with much news, they ignore the middle ground, the subtle good.
In the past weeks I've encountered more kindness from strangers than any time in recent memory.
I've met neighbours, commiserated at social distance with people on the street, and shared real smiles of solidarity with essential workers and people in supermarket lines. This must be what community feels like. And it goes further than the face-to-face. Digital communication has been softened by empathy. Notes of genuine care from out-of-touch acquaintances bring warmth despite the uncertainty.
They’re doing it, I assume for the same reason I am. They know, because I’m human, that life is kind of rough lately. I know it’s rough for them too.
The coronavirus has given us something undoubtedly in common. Perhaps what we forgot in the rush of our previous existence was, it's always existed.
The thing about life is someone is always going through something at one point or another. That person you just emailed an urgent to; the barista who got your order wrong; the guy calling from Oxfam. Most often, we just don’t know it. But as people who go through things ourselves – break-ups, existential crises, illness, the deaths of those we love – we probably should.
In our constant efforts to achieve efficiency we might argue there's no time to dwell on people's feelings. But while taking the time required for a more considered existence is also part of our post-isolation plans - it needn't be one or the other. Kindness actually requires very little additional effort. From it, interactions - and actions - flow easily. Not to mention it feels better. And it's contagious - in a good way.
On the other side of this current way of being, I hope we’ll remember (to quote Patti Smith) that we're all alive together. And that we'll continue to choose softness.