THE REAR END: A Better Me?
‘Has the pandemic made me a better person?’ is a great question I just asked myself
Months ago, like many of you, the COVID-19 pandemic threw my normal routines into the ol’ wood chipper of life, replacing them with a set of new, almost otherworldly habits. And so far, the biggest surprise/silver lining/whatever is that many of these changes are actually for the better.
So today I ask myself, “Has the pandemic made me a better person?”
I’m not really sure. But as together we ponder Mike Paulus’s personal growth in the face of a surging global health crisis, I present to you the following list of ways I may have gotten … not worse?
I PROCRASTINATE EVER SO SLIGHTLY LESS.
More time at home means more time staring at all the stuff I’ve been putting off, like minor home repair and toenail maintenance. It also means more time to actually do these things. It also means realizing that thing I put off for five years only took 20 minutes to actually do. Knowledge is power.
I KINDA GET MORE EXERCISE.
After the pandemic settled in, my wife and I started taking daily walks. I now walk more than I’ve walked in my entire life. I’m not exactly showering my cardiovascular system with rays of life-giving light, but I’m moving my muscles, nurturing my mental health, and connecting with the most important person my life. And all of that is great. Although, I suspect the real victory is in not constantly whining about it.
I GET TO PRACTICE KINDNESS, SORT OF.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last eight months, it’s that a house full of people doing stuff virtually provides you ample opportunity to just chill the hell out for a second and be nice. My whole family has been lucky enough to learn and work remotely since April. Meetings and classes and hangouts and trumpet lessons, oh my. Sometimes the kindest thing one can do is wait 10 minutes before microwaving a breakfast burrito while your daughter learns geometry. Or bring your wife some coffee during a long Zoom meeting. Or get your son some water as he blasts HOT! CROSS! BUNS! into an iPad via brass instrument.
I’VE DISCOVERED NOT-SO-NEW ACTIVITIES.
Thanks to the twin wonders of the Nintendo Switch and my wife’s raging childhood nostalgia, I now play a 30-year-old video game called Dr. Mario once a day. Not familiar? Well, from my experience, Dr. Mario is a simpler version of Tetris where a loved one kicks your ass for half an hour.
I HAVE FOUND JOY AS A HOMEBODY.
Ha, this is a joke. If you know me, you know how funny this is. The word “homebody” is tattooed upon my crimson heart. I’m both mystified and disgruntled by people who NEED TO GO OUT, pandemic death tolls be damned. Chalk it up to years of just staring into space my rich inner life.
I NOW LET GO OF STUPID STUFF.
I am no longer burdened by the sight of some dirty dishes or a pile of laundry in need of folding. Because now I make my kids do that stuff. They have the time. And escape is futile.
I GET UP EARLIER AND IT’S JUST SO GREAT, GUYS.
I now climb out of bed well before 6am on the weekend so as to go grocery shopping while most of humanity is incapacitated by sweet slumber. Getting up early is some kind of enviable personal habit, right? Right? I’m too damn tired to tell.
I CONTEMPLATE STARK REMINDERS OF SOCIETY’S EVOLUTION THROUGHOUT HUMAN EXISTENCE.
Like it or not, we humans have made it this far by banding together, protecting our neighbors, pooling our resources, sharing ideas, and teaming up to stab marauding, saber-toothed Tasmanian devils or whatever in the neck with our rickety wooden spears. I’m reminded of this helpful history lesson every time I see some dude at Woodman’s shopping for Pringles with his nose hanging out over the top of his mask. Our chances of survival are handcuffed to our collective common sense. Understanding this seems like a plus.
I ACTUALLY SHOP LOCAL MORE.
The slower pace of my pandemic life has allowed for a deeper meditation upon where we spend our money and who needs it most. Local shops need it most. In case you hadn’t heard about that. It’s kind of a big deal.
OK, to be honest, if COVID-19 were to magically disappear tomorrow, I suspect I’d abandon many of my new pandemic habits with alarming speed. And gleefully so. I’d try to maintain some of these activities while easily tossing others to the side. So I guess the real question is, “Has the pandemic made me better or just … different?”
And I shall answer that question by asking, “Is different … better?”
And I shall answer that question with a resounding … maybe.