6 Current Trends I Hope Extend Beyond the Pandemic
There are many things about this time I hope don’t last, but also some key actions that can add good to the world for decades to come.
I had a rough day. A month of staying inside my house staring at screens is getting to me, and I’m starting to lose a real sense of time or routine as my family adjusts to changing needs and work flows. The weather was miserable, cold and wet, so we didn’t even step out into the backyard, leading my toddler to run out her energy inside, up and down the hallways, in the middle of Zoom meetings. After my third 60+ hour work week in a row, I spent Saturday doing taxes and then, finally — after dreading it for weeks— began the process of trying to cancel a dream trip to Europe that we’ve been planning for four years. I felt horrible even reaching out to the small boutique hotels we’d booked during this time, knowing they are losing business and have their own challenges to face. Can this day just end already?
But these are all very much #firstworldproblems. I felt lousy, but I felt guilty for feeling that way, as I have so much to be grateful for — especially my family’s health and safety. I started to turn my attitude around when I began a gratitude meditation at sunset, watching vivid colors melt across the clouds. I took a deep breath, appreciating the air that filled my lungs. While there are many things I won’t miss about this “era” of pandemic and quarantine, there are some amazing and truly good things happening right now that I hope stick around. Here are a few:
- An Incredible Show of Unity and Generosity: This pandemic has shown us just how interconnected we are. Across the globe, we are facing this together as the virus spreads from country to country, city to city, person to person. We have seen evidence that each and every one of us plays an important role in our world as we stay home to protect one another and flatten the curve. As we take action, we see the good in humanity. Everywhere, we’ve seen spontaneous acts of kindness and selflessness grow exponentially. People are stepping up to help those in need, and recognizing the vital roles of public service and nonprofit professionals and the volunteerism and philanthropy that supports their work. As we’ve made the transition to work virtually, we are developing deeper empathy for our colleagues as we see a glimpse into their home lives. As we spend more time at home, we foster more compassion toward our neighbors. We are donating to nonprofits, we are volunteering, we are buying groceries for the elderly and writing kind messages in chalk across our driveways, we are cheering for doctors and nurses, we are checking in on friends and family that may be lonely, we are advocating for causes we believe in. These actions may seem simple, but when everyone takes action together, the world is transformed. I hope that we hold on tight to this sense of global connectedness — an understanding that one small action, anywhere in the world, can ripple out and affect us all. I hope that we make generosity a core value and priority in all times, good and bad. I hope that we understand that we each have the capability and opportunity to be a positive force and create real change.
- A renewed respect for nature: While we’re stuck at home, indoors, it becomes evident how much nature affects our physical and mental wellbeing. Nature heals. Sunshine energizes. We’re thankful for backyard moments and neighborhood walks, and missing our parks, trails, and beaches. We’ve also seen a massive reduction in pollution begin to clear skies and oceans. Nature needed a break from human intervention and activity. I hope, moving forward, we continue to care for our planet by being mindful of all of our activities and their impact, and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds us. I hope we can continue to reduce our carbon footprint through strategic telecommuting and preservation behaviors.
- A deeper understanding of the family unit: We work so freaking hard. We brag about how busy we are, push ourselves past our limits, set increasingly ambitious goals before celebrating reaching the current goal, access work emails on personal devices and add our cell numbers to our signature lines so that we’re always connected to the office. Work-life balance seems like a fantasy. For the first time in my 11-year career, I feel like employers are seeing the impact of these expectations on families. They are actually seeing our families, in the background of calls and virtual meetings, and understanding that working parents have two full-time jobs. I think we ourselves are also learning more about our families. We are incredibly grateful for the gift of family time. As we miss holidays, birthdays, weddings, and major family events, we feel the deep hole created by lack of family gatherings. If we live close to our families, we no longer take for granted how precious that closeness is. If we live far from our parents and grandparents, the distance feels a thousand times further. I hope that employers take note of how workplace culture places pressure on family life, and I hope that all individuals remember to place value on family even in a nomadic and career-driven world.
- Stripped-down and work-in-progress performances from artists everywhere: Visual artists, songwriters, and musicians have given us the gift of a window into their creative processes, all to inspire us. As they provide new creative work that helps foster a sense that we’re all in this together, they’ve stripped away some of the mysticism around creativity. They’ve also shown us more of their authentic selves. We are seeing our idols in their homes, without makeup or wardrobe or fancy lighting and choreography —without editing— and they feel more relatable than ever. I hope artists continue to share authentic, raw performances to encourage us to be ourselves and to develop our creative potential. It’s okay to share work that’s not perfectly refined and marketed. We’ll only love you all the more.
- Behind-the-scenes access to museums and cultural institutions: Museums, zoos, heritage sites, and performance venues around the world have taken to digital media in a way they’ve never quite embraced before. They’ve released digital collections, created immersive digital exhibitions, curator-led tours, shared audio guide content, initiated community online film screenings, provided inside looks at work that goes on behind the scenes to bring light to a set of professions often reserved for the wealthy and highly educated, and more. They’ve dug into their storied histories to communicate context and advance public understanding of their value to society. They are showcasing their creativity and their ability to adapt and maintain relevance. They are providing free eye-opening educational content that we’d typically have to travel for and pay for. They are now accessible to anyone, from anywhere. I hope museums and cultural institutions continue to develop engaging and interactive digital content for a global audience, including many who do not have the means to visit in person. I hope cultural sector leaders take to heart that they are providing an unprecedented public service, and that embracing digital alongside physical visits only emphasizes their social value further.
- Active practice of Gratitude: I don’t think I’m the only one who’s become more focused on gratitude lately. At a time when we are faced with a dangerous — even deadly — threat to our lives, livelihoods, governments, and social constructions, we realize where our real priorities are and what’s really important in life. We count our blessings. We are grateful for things too often take for granted — the most foundational and significant things in life — the love of our families, our health, the roof over our heads, the food that nourishes us, the warmth of sunshine on our faces, the kindness of neighbors, and so much more. I hope we commit to heart that love is all we need.