Things Are Feeling Shockingly Normal
Updated: May 5
The past few weekends have been nothing short of pure catharsis. With the continued gradual lifting of COVID-19 lockdown measures, the UK has cautiously dared to edge back towards a state resembling "normality" (...whatever the hell that is).
The UK's vaccination rollout has been a huge success story, and many of my family and friends have now had at least one, if not both, of their COVID jabs. After months and months of being able to do little more than a brisk walk or a trip to the supermarket, it's been truly rejuvenating to be able to spend as little time as possible inside my flat, and to get out and enjoy...well, enjoy seeing anything that isn't the same four walls. Long weekend walks with friends, meet-ups with family, meals and drinks in pub gardens and trips to towns a little further afield (though I haven't made it as far as Barnard Castle yet, I have to admit) have all contributed hugely to making everything feel a little more ordinary again.
It's been nice to have a reminder of what "normal" should be like. At the beginning of the outbreak last year, everyone and their dog had the phrase "I can't wait to get back to normality" on their lips, thinking that it was just an inconvenient couple of weeks, or - god forbid - months, until normality would resume. But as time went on, our "normality" morphed into something else. That longing for the return to the way things were began to slip through our fingers, edging further and further out of reach, and; at some indeterminate point in time, I almost forgot what it was like. The latter part of 2020 and the first couple of months of 2021 were particularly tough for me personally, and at one point the monotony of living the same predictable, sheltered and socially-deprived routine seemed like that was all we had to look forward to, and that became our normality.
the usual, typical, or expected state or condition.
And so, rather contrary though it may be, attempts at grasping our old lives back have felt...new. Scary. Anxiety-inducing. Nerve-wracking... And it's because "normal" has changed. Prolonged time away from meaningful interaction with friends, face-to-face conversations and hugging your grandma have given these once-everyday events a new context, and that context has given them an unusual novelty, but also a new, undeniably imposing weight. For me, I think it's just a case of easing back into it, and letting myself become acquainted with the way things were gradually, until again they become normal. And so far - it's working. It's just not quite as simple as we once thought it might be. And; despite these unforeseen roadbumps, I once again can't stress how relieving it's been to have things to do, things to look forward to, and things to change what had become a very very mundane, sterile status quo.
I am still feeling a little hesitant to celebrate yet; however. I know that we aren't out of the woods. Cases, deaths and hospital admissions have been sharply falling all year so far, but that's precisely what happened before the second spike of cases in the UK, so it's understandable that people still have their reservations. The difference this time, however, is the aforementioned vaccine. At the time of writing this, 51.9% of the population in this country have received at least one dose of the vaccination. I am hoping that this puts us in good enough stead that the continuation of a methodical and measured exit from lockdown and restrictions will this time not result in another spike. It's been a difficult period of over a year for the world, and I hope that this doesn't age poorly, but I am cautiously optimistic that the tide has now turned (at least in the UK).
Well, that's about it for another entry. I'll leave you with a quote from the ever-inspirational late Stanley Kubrick:
“However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
And right now, the light I am supplying is making small - but frequent - steps towards a normal social life once more. Find your light, and nurture it.
Got a bit heavy, that, didn't it? Maybe I'll write something silly about Minions next week.
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