“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
This week marked my first business trip since the pandemic began. My 2-hour drive to the airport took less than 90 minutes. I was the only person in line at airport security. Half the gates were empty. One flight was half-empty, one flight had 10 people. In place of beverage service, there was a sealed plastic bag with snacks, water, and Purell on each of our seats.
Oh – and there was a lot of plexiglass everywhere.
Most people wore their masks, and I didn’t encounter any aggressive jerks. However, my normal routines and travel habits were a bit out of sync with the new conditions. That made me feel out of sorts. Especially when interacting with people.
Everything was new. Nothing was normal.
Of course, that’s true every day. Even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. There is only one constant, and that is change. The world of tomorrow will always be different than the world of today. The proof is yesterday.
If we plucked someone from January 1970, and dropped them into January 2020, they would feel lost. Imagine the stress of suddenly being exposed to so many different forms of communication. The volume of messages from multiple sources – and so many contradictory points of view.
Nothing would feel normal. The shift would be so drastic, the person from 1970 would probably be frozen in fear and apprehension. They wouldn’t know who to believe, or where to turn, or what to do next.
What’s unique about our current situation is the sudden shift of our environment. We didn’t have 50 years to adapt to the changes taking place. Collectively, we are learning to cope with the stress of the momentous differences from yesterday, and the substantial uncertainty of tomorrow.
It is too soon to predict what we may consider “normal” a year from now. But whatever that is, that feeling will be short-lived. We will be forced to change again. And again. And again.
Some of those adaptations will be of necessity to protect ourselves and those around us. Some changes will be discovering new ways to do our jobs. Some will be complete transformations of what we do for a living.
And some of those adjustments will be the result of discovering new ways to live better lives.
This should be the focus of our efforts – not creating a “normal” world – but a better world. We must dream of a beautiful future. We should imagine how we can become our best possible selves.
Then comes the hard work, the conscious steps and considerable effort to create that future. One that reflects not who we are, but who we want to be.