From new normal to normal

Mr Today has adjusted to a new normal. Mr Today wants to hand over the past normalcy handed over by Mr Yesterday to Mr Tomorrow. But Mr Tomorrow is worried if he could adjust to the good old Normalcy.

It all happened last March. Two gentlemen used to meet at a popular Manhattan joint for Breakfast every day. One Mr Yesterday used to hand over its baggage and instructions to My Today. Eventually, Mr Today would meet Mr Tomorrow to do the same the next day.  This was happening since the beginning of the inhabitation of this place by humanity. There was a cataclysm one fine day thanks to a brand new virus that originated from Wuhan and Mr Today waited to hand over its baggage to Mr Tomorrow. But Mr Tomorrow did not turn up at all for many days.

Everything stood standstill, but Mr Today found his new normal during this year. Despite all odds, he found ways to survive. He tried fighting the virus through all means he had. He learnt few very important lessons. Most important of that was to be prepared for any eventuality in life. He learnt to prioritize things he needed most and live minimally.  Most of the things we mainly struggle for in life like status gains through high-end dining, big cars, posh addresses, vacations, and so on are meaningless.

The key is to remain happy and positive with ‘real’ things like basic necessities and health. He has learnt that the real heroes are the ones who ensure continuity and normalcy in life like the utility guys, grocery delivery men, police, health workers, army, government, and banking.  Globalization was threatened and the environment had a chance to revive as he observed. And finally, he has learnt that Remote is the new normal. And having spent a year adjusting to this new normal, can he return to the old normalcy?

The most impacted sections of our society by this new normal are children and senior citizens.   Imagine being restricted to indoors forcefully (though these days many kids do out of choice) and not having a chance to interact with kids of your age. Few of them would have forgotten about old normal. The only novelty in the life of senior citizens is to interact with others. They have been asked not to do so.  It must be really difficult for these two groups to adjust to the new normal. They will be happiest to return to normal. But the question remains: What about the others?

Few people had no option but to return to the normal, but many are now used to the new normal especially on the work side. If things do return to normal are we ready to face it?

Let’s start with the commuting aspect.  In the new normal, we are now used to regularly ‘commute’ within the same house to the workstation.  You have added at least one hour to your daily life. More minutes to use for spending quality time with family, more time to do creative things, read books.

Forget about traffic jams of metros, pollution, crowds. You may miss the socialization part of office life but the overall effect has been positive.

Will we adjust to actual meetings after spending hours on Zoom, Teams, WebEx’s? Imagine you would have to focus on listening to every word said or slide presented on the board. There is no escape of mute button /stop video option or new window to open or checking social media. Are you ready for that?

For students, they will have to now again be prepared to listen to the teachers in actual classes, appear for exams in an examination hall, submit physical assignments and so on.

We should be prepared to give upon flexible scheduling allowed by lack of need to log physical hours in the office. To some, this facility was already there, but it is now the norm in the new normal.

We have learnt to multitask in this new normal. Many people have tried cooking food or at least prepare the ingredients, cutting/chopping vegetables etc. while attending meetings. Some have tried writing reports while attending meetings to save on time as another example. That has added few more hours to our daily lives. We have watched IPLs, Aus-Eng Series while doing our work. Forget the lighter side but it adds a serious dimension to our life.

Will those who have stopped the travel for work, be ready for those jaunts involving air /train /bus travel, Hotel rooms and inevitable delays, lost sleep, bad food etc.? Or will this never be the same again? Though most of us agree that things will never be the same or normal again after what we went through but more concern is will be able to be comfortable with others/strangers occupying the same space as ours again in our lives. Mr Today does not have answers for Mr Tomorrow.

Socially we have tried to connect over online platforms and have even conducted events as a new normal. But many have tried to defy the new normal and have tried to return to the old normal especially for the ‘play’ side of things. We tried gathering socially, tried taking vacations at away locations, dined out, and attended events. And we have seen the impact as a result of that. We are facing another round of uncertainty.

When you look at the situation, one year and few days is not a very long time in terms of overall individual life. But somehow the impact this crisis has made on the way we live is phenomenal and the uncertainty around it is the real problem along with the medical issues. To both these problems, the only solution is being stronger emotionally and increasing the natural immunity. The importance of mental and physical health/hygiene often ignored was highlighted by this pandemic Survival and the adaptability of humanity is being tested again and Mr Tomorrow will definitely have all the answers.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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