I wrote two scifi short stories last week, and the theme of both was disappointment over not being where we hoped to be. That tends to happen: we have big visions for a better tomorrow, then tomorrow comes with unexpected circumstances that we didn’t figure into our planning and derails our best intentions. I was grocery shopping yesterday when it occurred to me that there are several things we’d better get used to in this “new world” so we can cope with the reality we’ve got and find new solutions to find that normal that we were hoping to have. For example:
Being hot. I recently saw something on Facebook where the U.S. Department of Energy suggested setting summertime thermostats at 78 degrees, and I openly challenged them to live in South Carolina from April 1 – October 31 and let me know how that really worked out for them. Not only are our summers scorching and humid, but HVAC systems don’t last like they used to. They might be more energy efficient, but there’s also more demand on them. I don’t care whether you believe in global warming or not – summers are hotter now than they were 30 years ago, and there’s nothing we can do about the compounded effects of it now. Get used to sweating folks. Summer isn’t even here yet, and we’re already in what I call the deep fried “stupid hot” of summer.
Waiting. The population in the southeast is exploding as people retire and relocate to the southeast. Reasons vary from a lower cost of living to escaping the population saturation and COVID restrictions in other areas. The problem is that the “great resignation” has hit SC hard, and the workforce we have is struggling to keep up with a rising population. Not only that, but our road system was developed in the 1950’s – 1960’s, and still isn’t updated to accommodate with urban sprawl and development that has exploded in the state during the 2000’s. The result: the age of “instant everything” is over. Get used to waiting, folks. Everybody’s got to get out and do stuff, and there’s more of us than ever around these days.
More attention to personal health and sanitation. If you thought they gossiped about people walking out of the bathroom without washing their hands before COVID, then don’t even try it now. COVID made us germaphobes with good reason: we should have been more attentive to personal hygiene all along, and it’s a shame that it took a pandemic to make us realize how nasty we can be. Then again, people never were considerate of those of us with respiratory issues. The coughing and sneezing had gone from outright anger reactions to fear, and I’m not sure which is better or worse. At least there’s a bit more awareness of diseases and how they spread now. I suppose that’s a good thing, even if people still seem to be struggling to understand sinuses, mucus, and breathing in general.
Being treated badly. Snark is in, and everybody is on a mission to “one up” what they don’t like of with the ultimate putdown. The problem is that you reap what you sow, so this “snark” isn’t doing anything to build up better relationships or cooperation with others. It’s the balance of life: if you snark, then you set yourself up in competition with others, and in the end you always lose. Sadly it’s here to stay, as I see the snark epidemic spreading from the young to older generations, and that’s not inspiring friendship or mutual connections with others. You reap what you sow (boomerang effect). Yes, you’re free to express yourself as you wish, but you aren’t free of the consequences of your behavior. If you’re mean or rude, then people are going to need time and space from you, and there’s nothing you can do about that. So snark if you must, but get used to being treated badly. It’s what you’re reaping, and the only thing you can sow is isolation and loneliness
This certainly isn’t the “new normal” that I thought we were talking about two years ago. It’s hard for me to believe that we wanted the anger and frustration we see in the world today, but that is what has manifest, so we either wanted it or got badly off track. I truly think it’s the latter.
Can we change it? I hope so. Another rising thing I see is the popularity of meditation, no doubt to help people manage stress and come to a new awareness of life and themselves. I know meditation has helped me tremendously in working through the post-traumatic stress of my trials over the past couple of years, so perhaps this is a key to get people back on the track that we intended two years ago. It’s a small thing, but often those small things are they key to the biggest changes. Maybe this is it. We certainly need something to nudge us back on track.
Who knows? We can’t help the heat or the crowds, but maybe we’ll learn some grace and patience to find the internal motivation we need to get back to work on this brave new world we said we wanted.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.