A Post Pandemic World
There’s no escaping this paradigm shift, because the paradigm is us
This is big. Really big. And yet it all started from something so small. In just a few months a sub-microscopic agent has shut down the whole world, and we’ve woken up in a new reality. This is COVID-19.
Sometimes I forget that everything has changed. When I remember, I’m shocked all over again. Shocked that things can happen so fast, shocked that the world is never going back to how it was, and shocked at how different life looks compared to January.
On the big arc of history, of our species, of course events like this happen. But it’s hard to see the big picture from the eye of the pandemic, a time of enormous sadness and chaos for so many.
And as the virus, our invisible enemy, sweeps the globe, it feels like the top layers of this reality we knew are swiftly being eroded. The illusion of security, of control and convenience — gone overnight. Many of the systems and structures we had built around us — completely undone. Suddenly our huge world seems tiny again.
It’s now abundantly clear how complicated we were making things when we had tried so hard to engineer every aspect of our lives to be easier. We were, we are, completely out of sync with the natural rhythm of the world, separate from the environment and in many important ways, separate from ourselves.
Corona virus has also made it wildly apparent that the impossible is ultimately possible. International air travel has effectively halted — a notion that would have been unimaginable had it not been forced upon us. Everyone in the developed world is under house arrest and will be fined (or worse) for exercising personal freedoms that two months ago we completely took for granted.
And now, as we’re all confined to our homes, distractions removed, we’re forced to question our own personal realities, to cultivate our internal worlds. We can no longer go outside, so we have to go inside. Inside where we can sort out our homes, bond with our friends and families again, and inside where we can truly, deeply think about who we are and how we’re living.
So many truths have been revealed to us already in 2020. The impermanence of everything. What is really essential to us. How humans are most important, always. And the fact that the real sh*t is always there, no matter how you spin it. Underneath all the noise and distractions and stuff is connection, nature, humanity, love, community. It always has been, and always will be.
Along the way, and ‘the way’ will be long, there will be so much fallout from this shakeup. Change is always, always messy and hard. There will be a lot of grief for the particular future that we had envisioned but can no longer have, the way of life that we had become accustomed to, and the lives lost. But then comes mental space. And as that mental space opens up, so too comes clarity on the things that used to be such a brain battle.
As we weather the storm, we realise that we also inhabit a virtual, border-less kingdom, connected by memes and humour, and the wholesome joy of a TikTok dance routine. And for the purists who used to say that the digital world is fake and that millennials should get out into the real world, now we see that it’s all just different iterations of the same damn thing.
So this is what I think, what I’ve learnt. We get to decide, collectively, what’s real and what matters going forward. We think it, we believe it, we buy it, we create it. We get to rebuild how we want. If we’re not conscious of the thoughts and beliefs that we prioritise, we might end up rebuilding the wrong way again.
I never understood why people couldn’t see how devastating it is to act as if we’re all separate, and to be obsessed with the pursuit of goals in those ‘top’ layers — money, status, material possessions.
For some, it might feel like we just have to wait it out — to wait for our lives to return to ‘normal’. But everything is evolving all the time. The world will of course even out again, it always does, but not to how it was before.
After this pause is over, is the time to adapt, and be creative about our post COVID society. To move forward differently, more sustainably. Imagine a future that’s not all about money and foreign markets and who can travel the furthest and widest. It’s about community, and knowing how connected to the Earth we are. Less consumption, more connection and creation. Less distractions, more hugs.
Do we really need to go on luxury holidays, and pay basketball stars hundreds of millions of dollars, and manufacture fake food that’s killing us slowly? We don’t. Should we finally acknowledge the one-ness of everything, and that what we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves, and vice versa? We should.
So here we all are — everyone in the world in the exact same situation; united, susceptible, worried for our fellow beings, and with an enormous opportunity to decide where we will set sail to, from this same boat in which we have found ourselves. We created the structures that toppled, until we were left with only the real-est, true-est parts of our world, and we have the privilege, the huge responsibility, to create a fairer, kinder, more equal society out of the wreckage.
There’s no escaping this paradigm shift, because the paradigm is us.
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