The Great Pause


Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Like most city and town leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, my state government – aka Governor Charlie Baker – has issued stay-at-home orders until at least early May. I’m a firm believer in making the most of a challenging situation, so I’ve used this “Great Pause” as a time to focus on projects that were backburnered for years. Take for example, the redesign of my personal website you are now visiting. It figures that it would take a pandemic to end my procrastination… but at last, I present to you the relaunch of MargieBrenner.com.

Speaking of COVID, I read an article today published on Medium.com that stopped me in my tracks, entitled Prepare for the Ultimate Gaslighting. The author writes:

“Pretty soon, as the country begins to figure out how we “open back up” and move forward, very powerful forces will try to convince us all to get back to normal. That never happened. What are you talking about? Billions of dollars will be spent in advertising, messaging, and television and media content to make you feel comfortable again. …And every brand in America will come to your rescue, dear consumer, to help take away that darkness and get life back to the way it was before the crisis. I urge you to be well aware of what is coming…

Well, the treadmill you’ve been on for decades just stopped. Bam! And that feeling you have right now is the same as if you’d been thrown off your Peloton bike and onto the ground: what in the holy fuck just happened? I hope you might consider this: what happened is inexplicably incredible. It’s the greatest gift ever unwrapped. Not the deaths, not the virus, but the Great Pause…What the crisis has given us is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see ourselves and our country in the plainest of views. At no other time, ever in our lives, have we gotten the opportunity to see what would happen if the world simply stopped… If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now…

From one citizen to another, I beg of you: take a deep breath, ignore the deafening noise, and think deeply about what you want to put back into your life. This is our chance to define a new version of normal, a rare and truly sacred (yes, sacred) opportunity to get rid of the bullshit and to only bring back what works for us, what makes our lives richer, what makes our kids happier, what makes us truly proud.”
– Julio Vincent Gambuto

What Gambuto writes speaks to my core. Can we go back to “normal life” as if the pandemic never happened? And why would we want to, considering what we are experiencing at this moment around the globe: reduced air pollution from cars and factories; empowering stories of gratitude and human kindness; greater appreciation for essential workers (especially those in healthcare, food and delivery services); increased time for learning, hobbies and DIY projects; more time with loved ones and pets, and increased appreciation for the outdoors.

What will be your new normal?

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