Thoughts on a Post-COVID World… by D.A. Wolf

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I hope you enjoy this guest post, folks. Written by my friend and long-time blogger D.A. Wolf. A professional writer and editor, D.A. is originally from New England, has lived all over including in Paris, and currently resides on the east coast of the United States. You can check out her blog Daily Plate of Crazy here.

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Once upon a time, I used to venture out into the world. To the museum to view the latest exhibition, to the antique market to search for treasure, and to the local mall for seasonal sales. The sights, the sounds, the people-watching – all were sources of relaxation. And I suspect I took them for granted.  

For years, once or twice a week I would head to a coffee shop for an hour or two – any coffee shop would do — taking a small notebook, a pen, and my laptop. Because I worked from a home office (and also juggled kids), the change of scenery helped clear the cobwebs, shake loose ideas. And importantly, helped me to feel less isolated. These outings, too, I took for granted.  

Hoping to recapture pleasures like coffee dates in my post-COVID world.

In more recent years, I used to think nothing of my millennial sons coming to town for a weekend, and frequently they arrived with friends in tow. The injection of noise and energy and laughter was always welcome– what’s not to love? – and likewise, the quiet once they departed. But in the past few years, I see them so little that I count on their brief stays far more than I let on. And the absence of their shining faces and entertaining banter for these past 12 months has been pretty dreadful. While I wouldn’t say that I ever took their visits for granted, I doubt that I fully appreciated them.     

There’s more that I used to take for granted, of course. The food in my freezer, the toilet paper in my bathroom, and the conviction that despite gaps between clients, I would eventually find work. Then there’s the woman who delivers my mail, the cashiers at the supermarket, the employees at distant meatpacking plants. There are teachers, teachers aids, custodial workers, bus drivers. Surely we cannot forget them! And yet we do. We have. What else and who else have we long neglected? Let’s see… There’s the importance of science, the functioning of the U.S. mail, the “sanctity” of the U.S. election system. These are all people, principles, and American institutions that I once took for granted.  

Hang on to your hat! I’m not quite done yet…  

Never did I picture overcrowded ICUs, burnt-out healthcare workers, or EMTs and doctors and nurses being applauded for their heroic services. How is it that so many months later, their sacrifice escalating, we seem to be taking them for granted? How is it that COVID-19 has revealed so many of our personal and systemic fissures and failings?  

And last summer, like so many others stuck at home and glued to our screens, I was a captive audience to the killing of George Floyd and the protests that followed. I no longer accept my own insufficient awareness of what goes on around me. Nor do I accept my powerlessness to participate in change.  

This year of COVID has crushed us, scarred us, humbled us, shaken us, motivated us, enlightened us. It has opened our eyes.   

For me, the emergence of a post-COVID world is about reclaiming and celebrating what once seemed so simple. As simple as hugging my boys once they’re finally able to visit, enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend, grabbing a bite at my favorite Cuban eatery, wandering the bustling city streets that I love. And I’m even looking forward to doing my own grocery shopping!  

In my post-COVID world I imagine taking in a movie, attending a potluck dinner party, and losing my (ahem) “pandemic poundage.”

Fingers crossed — I can return to my favorite hair salon for a professional cut and color, and never again will I take for granted their magical skills. (I woefully do what I can with the gray and nothing about my hair growing longer, and longer, and longer…)  

Happily, in my post-COVID world, I can travel again. And that means… Paris! Oh, the galleries of the Marais, the aromas of the Latin Quarter… I can close my eyes and I’m almost there.  

Now, if you’re anything like me, you have no illusions about how quickly “normalcy” will return. Depending on where you live, you may be wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and taking other precautions throughout much of 2021. But with vaccinations beginning, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Nonetheless, I worry.  

Once I finally exit my bubble, a necessity to protect myself against COVID, will other aspects of my health have been compromised? When I resume my neighborhood walks, how many mom-and-pop stores and restaurants will be gone? How many will reopen, if ever?    

Beyond my little community, what about our healthcare workers who will have been fighting this scourge for more than a year? How will we help them through the exhaustion and trauma they’ve suffered? And how will we address the mental health impacts to the rest of us, not to mention the long-term financial burdens?  

Will we finally do something about food and housing insecurity? What about the income inequality that the COVID crisis has exacerbated?    

Will we continue to insist that racist statues be dismantled, that racially offensive school names be changed, and more importantly, that U.S. citizens continue to fight against voter suppression and for voting rights? That we don’t back away from 2020’s conversations on race, however uncomfortable at times? That conversations be transformed into actions?  

A concern that may seem minor but that gnaws at me… When will my sense of humor return? Thanks to late-night talk shows being broadcast from bathtubs and living rooms, I know that I’m capable of laughter. But my funny bone feels fractured. And I worry that it will be slow to mend.   

For me, life after COVID means relying on tried-and-true lessons that I never take for granted: the importance of empathy, finding purpose, nurturing resilience. And of course, love. However trite these notions may sound, they’re all I’ve got to offer, certainly to myself. Besides, I suppose this is the story of my life – of so many of our lives – the journey of our ups and downs, the help we give each other through troubled times, and the human connections that heal us.  

How about you? What do you hope life after COVID will mean?

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27 thoughts on “Thoughts on a Post-COVID World… by D.A. Wolf”

  1. It is an excellent post D. A.! I can relate to all the things ( except those typical to US) you’ve wrote about. For me,there will not be things that I take for granted. I don’t take them for granted now.
    I’ll be even more grateful for people,simple things and rituals,a hug,a smile (without a mask),coffee with friends…..humble and grateful for my family,friends,home…my colleagues and all the medical stuff working very hard….and to the firemen,army,all services…why the last three groups?
    I write this two hours after another huge earthquake near my hometown Zagreb,Croatia. There were a couple of them in the spring,the centre was in ruin,and now,again…..
    Dottoressa

    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Dottoressa. Indeed, humble and grateful. If only we could have been reminded to be humble and grateful at a much less tragic cost.

      And another earthquake! You’re in my thoughts. Be well.

    2. Dottoressa…so glad you are okay. You were the first person I thought of when I heard the news of the earthquake near Zagreb. Thinking of you and the people of Croatia.

    3. I thought of you as soon as I heard about the earthquake D. Such sad and worrying news. Take care and keep safe. Thinking of you and everyone who’s affected.
      Rosie xxx

  2. Yes, excellent post. But may I please add a much needed thank you to the men and women of the hard working and you don’t know, or understand what they put up with Police force in the United States of America. This year of 2020 has been extremely hard on our first responders. Dottoressa, hope you and yours stay safe.

    1. Oh yes, absolutely. By no means did I intend to leave them out. They are too little appreciated in “ordinary” times as it is. Thank you for mentioning them.

  3. Thank you Sue for introducing us to another wonderful writer. I am hoping that when we are able to socialize again that I have not lost my ability to indulge in small talk and interact with people face to face. I have gotten quite used to isolation over these past months….is that strange? To enjoy it??

    1. Hi Diane. Would it help to know that you aren’t alone in losing small talk skills? I live alone in a new city. When I occasionally “converse” with a neighbor in the building through text or on an infrequent phone call, I’m astounded at how much work it is to be “normal.” To chit chat in that light, pleasant, completely enjoyable (and courteous) way that we used to take for granted. I’m crossing my fingers that communicating aloud with real people in the real world will eventually return. (Maybe we should all have a virtual tea?)

      I wonder how many of us feel these same minor erosions in socializing skills.

      And lovely to say hello to you here!

      1. I’m okay with talking to people in person – probably because I teach voice on Zoom – but for the last few years, I’ve spoken to so few people on the phone (by choice), that when I have to talk to someone on the phone, I feel like a blithering idiot.

  4. Well said, D.A.! This makes me realize that how we reflect on the current year will greatly impact how we’ll experience our Post-Covid World. If we learn nothing from this horrific year, if we assume all silver linings have been shredded beyond repair, we risk carrying our personal pain and bitterness (and related feelings of hopelessness) into this future; we will have learned nothing. If, as you suggest, we learn not to take anything for granted, then we will carry hope and appreciation with us into this unchartered future. And, dare I say, we may also bring motivation for change — action born of outrage — along for the ride? I plan to make good use of these dark days to be mindful of the simple things that connect us all. Thanks, again, for the timely reminder of what’s important — and urgent!

    1. “Action born of outrage.” Impeccably said. Anger, properly directed, fuels positive change. Thanks so much for that reminder, Maggie. And thank you for the reminder that we cannot stay mired in pain or bitterness. Moving beyond our challenges doesn’t mean we forget them, or forget the people we’ve lost, or even the versions of ourselves that we’ve lost. Instead, hard as it can be, we need to learn the lessons. Keep going. Change what we can. Live as fully — and may I add, kindly — as we can.

      (And nice to see you here.) 🙂

  5. I live in an “open” conservative state. We have enjoyed the holidays here. I noticed that before Christmas all the shops and stores that I went to were out of Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, etc. The shelves were wiped out. I also noticed that there were more outdoor displays all over our city.
    In the year of “abnormal” we have managed to keep Christmas in our hearts and nothing can stop the human spirit.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the holidays, Sharon. Everything wiped out, really? Makes sense, I guess.

      I suspect we’ve never needed the holiday spirit quite so much as this year. If keeping Christmas in our hearts is the best we can do for now, I think that isn’t so bad… Even so, for me, I know that when I’m finally able to see my children again — whenever that is — it will feel like Christmas. 🙂

  6. You catch me on rather a down-day in the dark depths of winter here in the UK. Our news is getting even darker as our health service struggles to cope with the massive surge in new variant infections. And I struggle to remain chipper and not feel resentful and ireful towards people who, despite everything, insist on mildly breaking rules to see family or who travel when they should stay put or go abroad for a bit of a break. Nine months in, I couldn’t honestly say I miss hugging people but even if I did, I wouldn’t make a bad situation potentially worse. We have a difficult winter ahead and I, frankly, am fast losing patience with exceptionalism. The things I don’t say to people are legion; my thoughts, however…time to dig even deeper. Post-Covid? Not taking small stuff for granted will do. And breathing without a mask on.

    1. Well, Annie, I hear you. “Chipper” can be annoying these days (to say the least). And I find that I’m easily infuriated when I glance out the window onto my city street — I live in a semi-university town — and see 20-somethings blithely going about their business… without masks. I want to scream. (Actually, a few months back, I DID scream at the partying college students who were gathered outside in the building next door, their porch only a few feet away from mine — drinking, not social distancing, no masks of course… Middle-aged woman screaming alert! They quickly scattered.)

      I can’t help but feel resentment that my “captivity” is at least in part due to that nonchalance (irresponsibility? ignorance? feckless disregard?). Not only does this captivity impact my sanity; it impacts my ability to make a buck. And the degree to which millions of lives are daily impacted… physical health, mental health, economic survival — is a grim reality.

      I had a conversation this morning with a very old, very dear friend. She’s married. Lives far away. Hanging in. She’s also working hard to tough it out, day by day. She described her emotional state as “all nerve endings.” I describe my own state as feeling like I’m all exposed organs. As if my skin has just fallen away.

      Forgive me if that’s a bit graphic. I can only imagine that the vulnerability, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the quickness to anger or tears (these all take turns in my own case) are likely replicated across communities and nations. And that’s for those of us who are fortunate enough to have food and shelter.

      So I get it. Among other things, this year has been exhausting.

      Incidentally, one of my sons lives in the U.K. I hear stories from him. I truly hope the beginning of better times will head your way soon. Thank you for reading and commenting, Annie.

  7. Welcome D.A., I thoroughly enjoyed your guest post. It’s always enlightening for me to hear different perspectives about the many challenges we have faced this past year. Throughout it all, we have witnessed many acts of kindness and my hope is that this continues in a post-COVID world.

    Dottoressa, you and the people of Croatia are in my thoughts.

  8. Life after Covid…I will treasure. I’ll never take my freedom for granted again.
    I have a son in the UK too and I hear the crazy stories..I think every city has crazy stories to tell regarding the lackadaisical lifestyle folks quickly possess when they move out of a full lockdown.
    Another son in British Columbia…it’s the longest we’ve been apart since Covid arrived. Missing those hugs.
    My hubby’s mom has entered the hospital, then hopefully into a long term residence. We don’t live close so he’s coming to terms of not seeing his mom again.
    It breaks my heart to see the stores in our new community closed. I hope they can make it thru another full lockdown.
    When Covid is over??! … life can go sideways….people going back to selfish ways, taking advantage of everything . Or a total respect for life and the blessings we’ve been given! I know what I will choose…
    Robin

    1. Oh Robin, the situation with your hubby’s mom is indeed heartbreaking. There are too many stories that leave us feeling so deeply saddened. As for long-distance kids, that’s another challenge, isn’t it. Thank goodness for technology! It isn’t the same, but it’s something.

  9. D.A., I found your guest post interesting and thought-provoking. As this COVID-induced isolation goes on and on, I find myself missing the small pleasures of daily life in the Time Before: the joy of hearing the swell of conversation as I walk into a local coffee shop, making dinner for friends, spending time with family members who live at a distance, the sheer delight of a good hug.
    My heart breaks for those who have lost loved ones. I’m grateful for the frontline workers and medical personnel, the teachers who are teaching classes online and in person, oh so many good people who are doing their best to make life better for others.
    I like to hope that in life post-COVID, we will never take anything for granted ever again, and that we’ll do a better job of taking care of this world and each other.

    1. Yes… to everything you’re missing, Sue, and everything you’re hoping for. Dancing cheek to cheek with a stranger – wouldn’t that be incredible!

  10. I ache for the elderly, like my beloved aunts, isolated from family, one of in a scary retirement home where residents are dropping like flies. I ache for the young, held back from discovering the world, isolated from friends, taught not to get close. I wonder how governments, having had to spend so much on Covid and a simultaneous drying up of tax revenue, will be able to continue services, or which ones will be cut by necessity. I wonder whether I’ll ever again know the thrill of dancing cheek to cheek with a stranger.

    1. All such good points. We are aware of the risks and the harm for the elderly. But it’s too easy to assume that young people will be more resilient and are suffering less. They are missing so much, at every age and stage. We are ignorant of the long-term impacts, really. To what they may or may not be learning, not to mention their social skills and psychological well-being. And you are so right to mention the long-term impacts on government tax revenues and all that means. (The stubborn refusal of the US Congress to properly fund state governments is shortsighted and damaging. How do we pay the police, firefighters, teachers and other key frontline and city service workers without state and local government revenues? Those revenues have been obliterated over the past year given the erosion of the tax base. How is France doing in this regard?)

      And forgive me for noting the cheek-to-cheek dancing in the wrong spot! Who knows… perhaps there is a dashing stranger with whom to tango in the coming year!

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