If you’re anything like me you’ll have greeted the recent announcement from the Irish government about the lifting of pandemic restrictions with mixed feelings. We all, of course, wish that this whole pandemic never happened and that we could flick a switch to put everything back to the way it used to be (well maybe not everything, but most things) but, of course, that’s not going to happen.
We’ve been institutionalised by this virus and by our collective and personal reactions to it. We find ourselves at the point that the lifting of restrictions (to which we have become so accustomed) might be a cause for, not just celebration but also some concern.
The vaccine uptake in Ireland has been impressively high (or disappointingly high if you believe Bill Gates is a paedophile lizard who is trying to microchip us all) and we find ourselves at the point at which we can start to enjoy aspects of daily life that have been denied to us for so long. We can go to a concert, go to a yoga class, go to a restaurant, even go on a foreign holiday, and yet because we’ve become so used to restrictions, it’s normal that we might feel some nervousness about engaging in those, previously forbidden, activities.
But it’s also a time to rejoice. We have done what we can to combat the virus here and we deserve to reap the rewards of our collective sacrifice, to return to the normal functioning of our everyday lives.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a lot of talk of “the new normal”. I must say that I fundamentally disagree with that nomenclature for the way we’ve been forced to live. There’s absolutely nothing normal about physically distancing ourselves from friends and family, about an elderly couple crossing the street when they see you coming, about feeling self-conscious when you sneeze in a supermarket, or about not being able to visit a sick relative in hospital. The way we’ve had to live our lives for the past year and a half has been utterly abnormal and it has caused so much stress, loneliness, sadness and suffering for so many people.
Those of us who have followed the guidance of the experts in the field of virology, immunology, and public health should continue to follow their advice. If we followed their advice on limiting the scope of our lives then why shouldn’t we follow their advice when they tell us that now is the time to reconnect with our old lives again? Yes, it might be a little worrying to venture back out from under our metaphorical rocks but, if now is not the time, when is?
It doesn’t mean we need to start hugging strangers again but it’s, at the very least, time to drop the worry, stress, anxiety, and fear that have become habitual for so many of us.
Congratulations on surviving this long with your life intact. If you’ve suffered a lot, I truly do send you my very best wishes. Now it’s time to enjoy living again.