Last March, we went inside for weeks that turned into months that turned into a year. We didn’t yet know what we were leaving behind or what we would find when we reemerged. Now the world is welcoming us back bit by bit. Some of us are vaccinated, and warm spring weather makes gathering outside safer. Parts of our lives that we haven’t encountered for many months stand before us. It is a complicated moment of risk calculations and social interactions. This subtle shift in what is possible requires readjusting, which can be incredibly challenging. This readjusting requires us to show ourselves and our communities care and love.
In many ways, our lives are lived in patterns. Due to the presence of a virulent virus, our patterns changed. We spent more time alone, and those we hold dearest were kept at a distance. Our brains have absorbed an omnipresent level of stress and distress. Our bodies have been unable to move and express in the ways many of us were used to. We got used to things we never wanted to accept as reality.
Now these patterns are being disrupted again. It requires self-love to acclimate to yet another uncertain reality. There is a constant set of calculations running in our minds to decide what we can and cannot safely do. This imperfect mental math is challenging. However, basing your decision-making in love can make this process more genuine and grounded. Coming from a place of love adds compassion into the calculation. Going forward, you will need compassion for yourself as you make difficult decisions and compassion for those impacted by what you decide.
The anxiety of the pandemic hasn’t left, and there is an added anxiety about how to merge the life we created last year with the life we want in a more open world. It will take lots and lots of love to stay true to the person you became this year as you enter a reality with more possibilities. Give yourself love when you meet new people and forget how to seamlessly connect. Give yourself love when you decide to stay in all weekend because the open world feels too uncertain and too new. Give yourself love when you default to old patterns that you worked to change this year. Give that same love to others who are also facing the utter strangeness of this moment. We talked a lot about what happens when this was all over, but the reality of it likely looks and feels much different than you initially imagined.
You learned this year. You grew this year. You went through collective and personal suffering this year. Stay true to that. Love yourself through that. The last year was not life on pause. It was life lived during a complex reality, and you owe it to yourself to find the parts of you that you want to bring along into this next phase. Love yourself as you debut these parts of yourself to the unfamiliar reality of the here and now.
We still have a duty to protect our communities from a virus. We also have a duty to dream of a post-pandemic world filled with love and space for the people we became in an impossibly difficult time. Dream in love. Live in love and practice love out loud every step of the way.