The New Normal

The New Normal – Reset

It could not have come at a worse time. But what or when exactly is the right time to reset our lives and the way we live.

I don’t think I have ever seen a more powerful driver or motivation to change our life priorities or cause confusion, fear and uncertainty.

Was this a joke? Apparently, people were beginning to lose loved ones to some invisible agent, first the Wuhan, then Corona and lastly, covid – 19. I was not unaffected as my dear uncle, friend and mother’s friends son and more were to die. And many people I think were affected in many different ways, one painful one, a man who lost his wife who worked in the NHS.

First the phenomenon was Chinese

And I was probably among those who prayed that it be contained

Somehow, it managed to jump on the plane and circulate

To the extent that it became a global release!

The next shock was watching scenes of a lockdown in China

What in the world did the word mean dear?

It now earned itself a hashtag and become a commonly used word

Maybe I was one of those who wondered what the word meant

Who knows.

It’s become a part of our history, story, an apt point of reference for time.

I remember listening to our PM giving a speech and saying words to this effect, “many of you will lose loved ones.” What did that even mean? If only we knew how much of a tough time we were in for then, maybe we could have been better prepared.

Really, how well prepared, can anyone really be though, seriously?

That period came and went painfully slowly. What I thought would stay in its country of origin found its way, firmly to our shores. Then we were receiving counts of deaths and positive tests, later. I think there must have been minutes, maybe hours of deliberation before there was that infamous decision to lock us all down. What?

Did that control the spread of the virus? I don’t know. There were miracles taking place at the same time. The NHS volunteer response was launched amongst a few other initiatives. Feeling a little helpless and wanting to do something meaningful, I signed up to this and had to endure an agonising wait for acceptable. They sure needed a lot of detail ! I was finally accepted and started taking calls when the alarm/ alert sign went off. So I had to download an app using the details from the acceptance email then populate it with some information. It needed to be switched on for it to work. My first call was a mile’s walk to help someone with their medicines/drugs. I arrived at what looked like the address and was told by the resident I had the wrong information. I was pacing up and down a few houses in a row trying to work out which was the right one. In the end I gave up and let the call go. I waited anxiously for further calls. You could probably understand my frustration and amusement at being rejected by the caller when they heard my voice. This happened a few times and I was beginning to wonder if this was a hoax.

Life went on. We soon heard about the Nightingale hospital near us in East London. It posed some anxiety for a friend, who prayed reverently that she was not posted there to nurse. That record timing of its completion was phenomenal. Maybe one day I’ll get to see it as the last time I visited the Excel centre it was a buzzing parade of shops, shoppers and exhibitions.

It was so humbling and touching to see the many retired medical professionals return to work to help with the not coping so well, sadly some lost their lives in the process.

The adjustment process was not really an easy one. First I had to decide whether I wanted to stick to the normal, dress up with nowhere to go or relax into a new schedule. I remember a conversation with my friend, Queen Y’a where I was explaining that I had settled into a routine which included eating one meal a day. Only, a little later than one meal stretched over a hour of nibbling on all sorts of food and snacks and the weight began to pile up. The first few days seemed like a holiday and I would stay up for hours watching one episode after another of Netflix offerings. Early post Netflix Mornings fused into proper mornings. I think I was going to bed when the world was waking up for at least the first week. I would wear my onesie pyjamas and alternate them with a pair of old burgundy coloured woollen dress which Dami strongly disapproved of. I did not understand what the real issue was! Truly.

In those days, the lack of regular walks was beginning to take its toll on me. It seemed my derrière was beginning to take a different shape. Concerned about what my size would be in a few months, with little exercise, I started to take daily walks. I called out to a friend who did it everyday and discovered she walked at 7am. 7am! I shouted. That was too early for me. I would still be dreaming at that Time. Anyway, I made my walks a later morning routine which was delightful when Dami came with me. I then thought making videos of our walk and banter would cheer people up so I posted them on social media to the delight of a few people.

I remember the famous or rather infamous video of the ladies in the USA who were stock piling on toiletries and a fight over a pack of toilet paper. I think that incident captured the mood of the moment – fear, uncertainty and something else.

Thinking the lockdown was the worst of it, we now had to wear masks from a certain date. Those who knew how, quickly went into business producing massive amounts of styled and branded versions. I’ve even seen masks that have a hole around the mouth to let people speak. My real issue with them was the smell, sweat and rebreathing of expired used air (CO2). It became easier for me as we learned to go shopping when necessary. The young adults also ordered food sometimes.

There were massively long queues at the shops, some went into the street. Bus travel was initially free, then restricted to 20 passengers on essential travel only. What constituted the latter? I don’t know. I suppose medicines fit firmly in the permissible category. Masks 😷 were so compulsory on the bus that the driver would refuse entry if you didn’t have them. Suffice to say, I had little reason to take bus rides so didn’t have much of an issue with this.

More confusion became apparent when Alexa was asked what the new rules for working were. It would say “go” then say “don’t go!” in the same sentence. Then there was talk of an easing of a lockdown followed by another imposed one. It got to a point I could not keep up with new regulations I even stopped listening to the news!

More words were added to everyday language. We heard of the R number, the PCR test, positive testing, self isolation, contact tracing etc. A whole new world.

Another new word and concept – Zoom became a household name. We spent more time zooming than working.

For those who thought online Zoom calls were easy peasy, I think we began to realise how exhausting they could be. I spent more time on the screen, in meetings, at work until my eyes started to ache. Business calls began to inspire and shape Zoom’s delivery and the rush to release new features. There came new competitors with a new bid to obtain a slice of the market share Zoom was controlling. Time will tell if Microsoft Teams will succeed with being more famous.

As I write, I’m still using Zoom to teach, connect and work. The Friday Zoom book writing calls are ongoing.

When people ask when we will go back to normal, I’m quick to say, “you mean the new normal?” Though seasons come to pass, this “pandemic” has left its mark, changed the way we relate, work and do business. I think it’s brought out the best in some people. At a time when people lost jobs, closed businesses others found new opportunities to turn their lives around.

I learned to play the piano, started to write another book and even got a game app started –

I think the best is yet to come…

Copyright ©Arinola Araba 2021

Published by arinolaa

Mum, Singer, Writer, Entrepreneur Author page:

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