Tag Archives: pandemic

No Going Back, No Going Normal

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I talk about what I miss from before the pandemic. When discussing this with my girlfriend, she noted that trying to go back was useless. What you have to do is decide on a future and try to make it.

That resonated with me for two reasons I want to discuss.

The first is because we find it easy to get lost in nostalgia. Humans are creatures of history, and I sympathize when people remember “the way things were.” However, all of us know that the past wasn’t as great as we (or others) remember, as sure as we can’t go back. Even if we could go back to another time, we would be different people.

The second, deeper reason I connected with her statement was “build the future” is a lot better than the talk of “the new normal.”

The “new normal” is a deception. It is a deception because the “new normal” will be changing for some time to come. It is a deception because some things will be new and some will be old. It is a deception because “normal” will be different for many people – “normal” is not one size fits all.

Normal is a lie.

But deciding to build the future? I resonate with that because it means I choose – and making a choice means asking what you want? A lot like Agile (hey, you knew I’d bring it up), you have to ask what’s valuable and worth your time.

I don’t know precisely the future I want. I have most of the picture, but the pandemic has changed some things. I do know it won’t be “normal.”

But it’ll be mine.

Steven Savage

Those Old, Unfamiliar Places

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

To keep my sanity during the Pandemic, I take a drive to see places I used to go before COVID-19. I go past apartments I used to live in, stores I used to frequent, or parks I liked to hang out at. These drives remind me of what went on before and what can again.

If a place is safely outdoors, I may even take a walk. Vaccinated, double-masked, avoiding people, I pass silently through places I miss. If an area looks to be filled with people, or if I see reckless behavior, I avoid it. It hurts to avoid places I loved.

It also hurts me that so much has changed in a year or three.

Stores I knew are gone. Apartments have sprouted up in places I’ve never seen. New shops have opened with hope and caution. I’m passing through a world I know that is totally alien to me.

What happened? What is this place? Who are these people? Where did this place go? I want to know what happened, I crave the story of the year gone.

A joke passed among my anime-loving friends is that when we finally have conventions, it’ll be like an Anime Timeskip. Everyone will have aged a few years, everyone will be different. The metaphor is funny, but it also acknowledges there will be stories of what happened. There will be a narrative because we can talk and because we kept in touch as best we could.

The empty buildings and new places where I used to go tell no stories. I didn’t witness their shutting down or going up. I wasn’t able to say goodbye or hello. They’re tales I can’t grasp quickly, and seeking them may be risky.

I feel a gap in the way the landscape of my life changed. People need narratives, we need to understand why something is and what happened. We are also creatures of place and context, from a comfy den to a favorite coffee shop. But places and their tales are different after the Pandemic, and there are holes in the story.

So I pass by and through these old, unfamiliar places. I want to know, I want to understand, I want to connect. I cannot.

I am a masked a ghost haunted by the new things and dead years.

Steven Savage

Textured Thoughts In Text

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Gods I needed to see this article – Late-Stage Pandemic Is Messing With Your Brain. I feel so close to this author I never met, and far less alone.

This article is about what we’re experiencing during the pandemic and why. It’s filled with all-to-familiar descriptions of things we’re all dealing with. Such as:

. . . I feel like I have spent the past year being pushed through a pasta extruder. I wake up groggy and spend every day moving from the couch to the dining-room table to the bed and back. At some point night falls, and at some point after that I close work-related browser windows and open leisure-related ones.

These are words with texture. Though the article lists of science facts and quotes from experts, but these words remind you someone else out there is like you. It’s great to know why but this article also says yes, I am there as well.

We need articles and writing like this.

Earlier I noted I had gone from “please no Pandemic writing” to “let’s write about it.” This article is a grand example why, not just for the facts, but for the feelings. Facts explain, but feelings help us understand. Those personal words, those tar-sticky sentences that attach to our minds, create connection.

This is why even in an area that may be oversaturated – like the inevitable writing about the Pandemic – it is valuable to write and write well. Those deep connections you make with your textured words, those gritty little sentences, help people “get it.” They may “get” a scientific truth or just why you’re complaining, but they “get it” and take something away from the experience of reading.

Writing and writing well will connect you to people, even over things that may seem banal. So keep writing, as we all need that connection. If anything in these lonely times, we’re reminded of how even text from a stranger helps us feel understood and seen and be part of something.

Steven Savage