Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

While I wait, impatiently, to get the Covid-19 vaccine, I can look back at the last year with some appreciation. I’ve learned a lot, although the victories have often been hard won.  

I’ve never been good at technology. Designing my own web site was pure torture, which is one reason it took almost a year to complete it. But with the pandemic, I (and the rest of the world) have had to live most of my life online—chatting with friends, talking to my doctor, and now signing up for the vaccine. (For seniors who don’t have computers, this part has been a challenge.)

I think I’ve mastered Zoom (except for the white light from my webcam that makes my face look ghostly), although it probably took a good six months to become comfortable with it. For the first few months I found myself staring at my image on the screen: was that really how I looked?

Since the pandemic, I’ve attended online conferences and talks that I probably wouldn’t have gone to in person for a variety of reasons—too late at night, too cold out, no place to park. Now, from the comfort of my home, I’ve learned about Boulder’s watershed, been inspired by spiritual teachers from around the country and listened to two of my favorite nature writers talk about the climate crisis.

Desperate for new clothes, I’ve learned to shop online, although I return as much as I keep. I think the trick is to find a retailer you like and trust—so you know how their sizes fit you. When I got frustrated with having to return pants that were too big or small, I braved a Kohl’s department store nearby, but found their dressing rooms closed, so I had to take them home to try them on. Because I ended up returning most of what I bought, I might as well have stayed home and ordered online.

I’ve always enjoyed dining out, but with restaurants mostly closed, I’ve had to learn how to order take-out online. I’ve learned how to order from DoorDash (something my young nephews learned as soon as they could talk) and other places, as well as how to make sure I get brown rice rather than white with my vegetable curry.

In the pursuit of wanting to enjoy meals with friends at our favorite restaurants, I’ve eaten outside on 40-degree days, wearing my down jacket, mittens, wool hat and scarf, and been served dinner in a tent next to a parking lot while I tried to remember to keep my mask on when the waiter entered.

Two months ago I did my first video call with my doctor—telemedicine, which I suspect in the future will become the main method of seeing your doctor—to discuss sinus issues. It was somewhat helpful, although what was missing was his ability to determine, by touch, whether the sinuses around my eyes were swollen.

Gone are the days when I would interact֫—inside the bank—with my friendly, local bank teller. Now I’ve had to learn how to deposit checks in the ATM, and I have to admit it took me a while to figure out which slots to insert my checks in. But I persevered in the face of a lot of blinking lights on the bank screen. (Just admitting I still traffic in checks puts me in the geezer category.)

But the greater lesson from the last year is appreciating what I once took for granted: like seeing friends face to face over a drink or meal. Or going to the grocery store or hardware store without worrying about someone getting too close. Or being able to smile at fellow hikers on a trail. Or taking a short road trip without worrying I won’t be able to find a place to eat or, worse, a bathroom. Or spending as long as I want in my favorite bookstore.

Until they were snatched away from me, I didn’t realize how much joy these small pleasures of daily life brought. As friends and I start to line up for the vaccine and the promise of a return to what used to be known as normal life, I hope I never take them for granted again.

8 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

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  1. I still traffic in checks, too! In South Africa, no one does any more—they’re too easily forged and altered. I was once on a train in Johannesburg where a group of young men were discussing a check one of them had recently received. “Can I see it?” asked another. “I’ve never seen a check” …

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    1. I love it. I’m putting together a blog post on things future generations will never get to experience, like slamming a phone down.

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  2. I’m retired, so haven’t zoomed any meetings or anything like that. But I’ve sure learned the ins and out of ordering groceries online. I’m getting so spoiled I may very rarely go to a grocery store again. And I’ve learned to use my phone to deposit the few checks I’ve gotten this year. I’ve been ordering clothes online for a number of years. It’s just too exhausting and discouraging to go to a store and try on half a dozen different things.

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  3. This pandemic has given me experiences I would’nt have had otherwise. I don’t go out very much, except for exercise and a little shopping. I can’t drive after twilight, and I never attended evening conferences, classes or concerts. Now I do, whether they happen in my country or in yours. the world is , now, my oyster.
    I MISS hugging and kissing people, holding my small grandchildren, snuggling close together. I miss physical contact. Fortunately, I have 2 adopted dogs, love them!

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    1. I agree. I’ve read books I wouldn’t have gotten to and listened to talks I wouldn’t have gone to, because I don’t like driving at night. Now, I can’t wait to see friends for a drink, but I’ll have to wait for the vaccine.

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  4. Great to hear about your resilience in learning to do activities online or while safely social distancing!

    Being unable to dine at restaurants has inspired me to learn to cook/prepare many of my favorite dishes that, before, were only available to me from menus, including Jamaican oxtails, sushi, pad woo sen noodles, and molten lava cakes. I’m very much looking forward to showcase my new skills and cooking new things for my mom!

    The pandemic made me make time to rediscover and dive into my hobbies of earlier times: puzzles, scrapbooking, painting, and books. That being said, I’m immensely looking forward to when I can break this year-long fast on in-person, indoor socialization!

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    1. Alexis, great that you’re learning new recipes. They all sound adventurous–and delicious. I love to cook, but I’ve gotten stuck in making the same things, so I need to find some new meals. And isn’t it great that we’ve rediscovered old hobbies. I’ve taken up playing the piano again–and loving it.

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