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The inscrutable appeal of the new normal

May 29, 2020 - Friday 4:05 AM by Eva Aranas Angel

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There is no modicum of doubt that everyone, rich or poor, has had their lives upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. The more spiritual among us say that this is God’s way of leading us back to Him and renew our faith in His power. That this is the time for those who strayed to go back to His fold. Whatever persuasion and faith one may have, however and whatever way one may call his God, this pandemic is a call for renewal. That is universal.

It is different, too, among the pragmatic. A meme went past my newsfeed which was attributed to Brene Brown. It said, in part, ‘We will never go back to normal,’ she contended with certainty. Brown expounded that ‘the pre-Corona existence was replete with inequity, exhaustion, disconnection, confusion, rage…,’ an ad infinitum of many things wrong about the human race. She concluded with a subtle optimism that ‘we are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.’

I myself have been slowly learning to embrace the new normal. Be it at home, with my friends and colleagues, and with any random person. We now pray more regularly, a much longer prayer time that sometimes goes beyond midnight. My husband and I hold hands as we pray, and then disinfect with alcohol after. It seems that ours is an odd mixture of faith and paranoia. But it is this same ritual that has brought us closer than ever, to each other and to the Lord.

At work, I have done many changes in schedule, in my rapport with patients, having introduced online and telephone/video consult as my platforms (don’t worry BIR, I send them a JPEG of the receipt).

Those familiar with my clinic set-up would not be remiss in noticing that I have removed all curtains. All my windows are open. And for the first time in a long long time, I have experienced this connectedness with nature with every whiff of fresh air that goes in and out the windows. Although I have a limited number of F2F or face to face patient encounters, I make up for it with other channels for the difficult to transport and the queasy about stepping on a health facility.

Facetime with friends has become more regular, which, almost always, end in prayer.

The barter culture was re-introduced recently and has revolutionized the way people utilize gadgets, art works, and baked goods as currency. The caveat of course is that during meet-ups, continue to observe wearing masks and practice social distancing.

Even among doctors and those in other sectors, the weekly conferences have been replaced by sporadic Zoom meetings. Speaking of Zoom, this has been catapulted on top of the list as the most frequently used business language of late, along with Webex, Webinar, Meeting ID, and Password.
Still and all, despite slowly enveloping ourselves with the mantle of the new normal, old habits die hard. It takes time getting used to the ‘new normal.’ To some, the new normal is abnormal.

I for one still wear perfume during a Zoom conference. And I do handwashing when I face a patient for a video consult.

It seems that we are in this for the long haul. My fearless forecast is that lipstick sales will be down, and the demand for eyebrow pencils and cream, the well- reviewed Shiseido eyelash curlers will skyrocket.