After the lockdown eased a couple of weeks ago in the UK, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, and shops were able to open their doors to the public once again.
Are we going back to the old normal or a new normal?
My first impression
My first impression of life after the lockdown is… I feel wobbly.
I have felt overwhelmed and ill-prepared to speak to people, never mind adapting to the new etiquette of physical interaction. Do I offer my elbow to the hairdresser? Do I make eye-contact? Should I just get my phone out and FaceTime the barista to order my coffee?
My sense of space is altered – it almost feels like a bad trip. I am either too close to people, or too far. Have I just accidentally brushed pass that old man? Are people bigger than I remembered?
I have a mask on that sometimes I forget is there and keep on at home without realising.
Back to ‘normal’ is not as straightforward as I thought. It’ll be fine, they said.
The questions remain
The questions I asked myself a few weeks back still remain: “What are you looking forward to? What are you leaving behind?”
I still don’t know. Part of me is aching for interactions and walking in the supermarket to go back to feeling ‘normal’ (what is normal anyway? Is it not just what we get used to?) – I still feel there shouldn’t be so many people in just one Sainsbury’s Local.
The other part of me looks back to the days of B.L. (i.e. Before Lockdown) and wonders if I could cope again with the hundreds of human interactions I had each day because of the mere fact of commuting in London. Could I handle that? Do I want that?
It was not all doom and gloom back then, but it seems harder and harder now, looking back, to be sure of what was good and what was definitely bad. What about all the books I was able to read because of the long commutes? What about the ease with which I used to order a small oat cappuccino?
Opportunity and responsibility
Over the past few months, we have the unprecedented opportunity to all stop and think. We have been forced to stay home and we have had the chance to re-assess life as it was. And now we have the unprecedented responsibility of choosing what life we want for ourselves as we go back to ‘normal’ life – like never before in our life.
Our facticity had always been decided for us before the recent events: there was a certain way of life that was established, indeed ‘normal’. Now, all that has been thrown out the window. Now it is up to us to model our lives according to what we want. We can make some authentic choices if we want. Or we continue living in what Sartre would call ‘bad faith’ and go along with someone else’s view of ‘normal’.
Here is the latest government advice.
And please, wear a damn mask.