At the start of this year, we were too preoccupied trying to figure out which side of the surgical mask had to be worn outside, to protect ourselves from the ashfall of the reawakened Taal Volcano. Little did we know that it didn’t really matter, as in the succeeding weeks, we would have to safeguard ourselves from a more devastating, lethal menace.
Early February, we were still going along our merry ways, although keeping in mind that the deadly virus from Wuhan had already downed hundreds of innocent residents of that area. When the epidemic reached global proportions, and the country had to be locked down, that was when everything changed.
We were directed to stay home and ensure that we always keep ourselves six feet away from each other. This and many other protocols were set in place, and frankly, I felt like a prisoner in my own country, in my own city, and in my own home.
Many people were quick to describe the situation as “the new normal,” while some were a little bit cautious and called it “the next normal.” The way people used these phrases, I could almost feel a tinge of excitement in their voices every time they mentioned it. I must admit though, that I also thought it was chic or even avant-garde every time I had the chance to use it in daily conversation. Eventually, however, I realized I was not ready and didn’t want to be ready for such phase in my existence.
God created Man out of Love, and for Love. The Bible says: “It is not good for Man to be alone,” but this new medical protocol insists that we should keep distance all the time from each other. How can we express Love, if we are far from one another? Whereas before, we kept on saying “No man is an island,” but now, every man is an island!
A former high school classmate based in Cebu shared with me his sob story.
His granddaughter graduated Summa Cum Laude from Columbia University recently. While she was still in college, and already showing signs of academic excellence, they—grandparents, parents, and siblings—promised her that if she reaps Latin honors upon graduation, they will all travel to be with her. The much-awaited graduation ceremony took place, but all of the family members were in Cebu and Manila, connected to the graduate only via Zoom. Of course, when her name was called, it was met with thunderous applause from all of them, the sound of which the poor, sobbing graduate couldn’t hear. She later told them she felt like all her hard work to make them proud was for naught.
On a lighter note, I have a friend, a longtime single mom now based in Vancouver, who continues her search for somebody to set her heart on fire. Then, luck played tricks on her, and she found somebody whose job is to put out fires! This university graduate, poster boy fireman and my friend go dating and take walks in the park two meters away from each other with their masks on.
Try figuring out how romantic that is. Fun? Not even.
Talking of things in our industry, if you decide to go on a much-needed vacation with your family, on the flight to your destination, you can’t even be seated together. While going on a sight-seeing tour, you can’t be seated next to each other in the bus. If you try the local cuisine in a restaurant, you can’t share the culinary delights because you’re far from each other.
Worse, when you arrive at the country’s primary tourist attraction, you look for the most “Instagrammable” angle to take the shot, but nobody can tell who’s in the picture, because everybody’s wearing a mask.
These are but a few of the strange set-ups we now have to contend with. That’s why, I ask myself, what’s so “normal” about these?
Although I am a pragmatist, I am also an optimist, and I continue to cling on to the shreds of hope that a vaccine for this virus will soon be made available so that we can enjoy life as it should be. God gifted us with this wonderful world to relish, and the best way to show our appreciation and embrace such a gift is to live our lives the way we used to.
Refusing to move on, I prefer to stay where I am, in the old normal, which keeps me in my happy place, because as King Arthur puts it, this is “the most congenial spot for happily ever aftering” my Camelot, my home, the Philippines.
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE
FIGURE THIS OUT: Who knew what time it was when the first clock was made?
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