As things continue to change with the COVID-19 pandemic, we all are probably wondering what’s next? Where do we go from here?
I ask you to ponder where you specifically want to go from here. I ask as a person who is working in community development, as a person who is concerned with economic development, as a person who lives here in the greatest country in the world, as a customer, wife, mother, daughter, and human being.
I have questions. You probably do, too.
Will we have a renewed sense of family values? Will you want to spend more time with your family? Will someone stand up and say that as much as we all love sports they shouldn’t be played on a Sunday? Will we just be ready to see others and forget family bonding? Will game nights and family meals be expected again and wanted? Or will we be on to the next thing?
Will we realize what jobs are “essential” and encourage the trades? Will our kids see what pays the bills and how important education is?
Will we find a new appreciation for educators after attempting to home-school? Will they get the wage they deserve? Will we realize that farmers keep food on our plates even though the middle men are making all the money? Will the farmers make a union? Will we make more meals at home? Will more drive-thrus be built for the next time? Will there be a next time?
Will there be more gardens? Will there be more flowers for bees and butterflies?
Will our kids again know how to cook, clean, and hang out with us? Will they remember this fondly or as horrifying?
Will we have all our home projects done that had been put off for years and be ready to socialize? Will we jump at the chance to go to restaurants to eat in their environment? Will we go to town volunteer-driven events because we can? Will we appreciate those volunteers? Will we show up for our communities?
Will we change our spending habits after watching our bank accounts during this?
Will we slow down our instant gratification fix? Will we up it to reward ourselves for surviving?
Will we make our homes and our yards beyond fantastic so that we prefer to stay in? Will we work from home instead of going to the office? Will we isolate ourselves more out of fear or habit? Will we find ourselves even lonelier? Will the mental health crisis grow? Or will we find peace in helping our neighbors by sewing masks or picking up groceries?
Will we go see the people who can’t go where they want to because now we understand how it feels? Will we have a greater sense of empathy?
Will more people vote to make sure the right people are making decisions for us?
Will we order everything online? Will the malls and retail stores close? Will we flock to malls because we can? Or will we realize the value of boutiques and trying things on or a business owner that knows your personal tastes? Will we shop local because we realize the need for something close and attainable?
Will we continue to be a little nicer to those in the medical profession and to the grocers and discount store workers? Will businesses try something new?
Will we think ahead and make changes for the betterment of our new normal? Will we dream something bigger and better? Will we go back and enjoy the simpler times and ways of life?
Will we see a new interest in Iowa and the rest of the Midwest with its open spaces and beauty? Will Coasters visit or move here? Will the trails stay busy with walkers, bikers, and exercisers? Will more be built in case there’s a next time?
Will we not take spending time with others for granted? Will we hug more because we missed it or will we be too scared and miss out on human touch that they say provides healing and comfort? Will we push up against the next person at a live concert and just be glad we can be there? Will we realize that it’s safer to stay home?
Will we have a renewed sense of community? Will we love where we live more? Will we use our vacation days for family trips or mental health pick-me-ups instead of losing them because it keeps us healthy and much happier? Will we seek out cool things nearby? Will we stay home when we are sick without the guilt of missing work from supervisors and out of respect for the safety of others? Will we value our health more? Will self-care be even more important?
Will what “the Jones” are doing matter less? Will we learn to judge less and accept more because we all have our own set of battles? Will we realize the grass isn’t always greener? Will we try to do better?
Will we re-evaluate our priorities?
For every question I might have, the real answers come back to our priorities. As we struggle to deal with the new “normal” and adjust to all that has changed and remained the same, I ask that you ask yourself that one last question: What matters?
May the right things matter.
May you find your sense of community.
May you find the benefit in doing for others.
May you find appreciation.
And may you always remember we are all in this together…
Seek the light.
Be the light.