As Hawaii, along with the rest of the country, reopens in earnest, a question people have been asking each other in Zoom room gatherings or pondering alone in quiet reflection is, “What were the lessons of the last two months of staying at home? What will you take with you from this time into the post-lockdown era?”
It must be acknowledged, of course, that for some, there may not have been any positive element to the pandemic response and resulting economic fallout. The loss of life in Hawaii was relatively small, but there is no “small” when it’s your life or of the life of a loved one. The loss of a job or a business can be devastating.
But for some, the forced isolation, self-reliance and introspection brought positives in terms of skills learned, new routines, unexpected realizations.
For one, many found that working from home can actually work.
Many companies that were adamantly opposed to work-from-home options have found that having employees work from home actually is possible and, in some ways, practical. People who may have hated the thought of working from home enjoyed hours of re-claimed time that would normally have been spent sitting in traffic trying to get to work and sitting in traffic trying to get home at the end of the day.
They realized how nice it is to come to an 8 a.m. meeting relaxed and ready rather than going through the stress of an accident jamming traffic on the freeway making them an hour late and totally frazzled.
People cut down on unnecessary hustle-bustle, the crazy running-around that so many of us do as though it’s required. It turns out that it wasn’t — all those five-stop errands and multiple trips to the grocery store and daily hunting-and-gathering rituals that made us exhausted seem less important now.
People started making breakfast at home. They remembered that they knew how to cook pancakes or they taught themselves and were proud of the results.
People searched up new recipes, new techniques, new kitchen hacks. People who had only eaten pre-made meals figured out that learning some basic techniques in the kitchen really gives you many options for feeding yourself, and furthermore, that it’s not all that hard to make spaghetti or chili.
Many figured out how to do useful things for themselves, like sewing and planting a garden, cutting their own hair or trouble-shooting their own tech issues. Maybe they won’t want to do those things anymore, but they will know that they can.
For artists and content-creators, the shutdown has been a time of quarantine creativity, with world-class musicians offering free concerts online, theater and opera companies streaming performances and even humble family bands and dad-dancers putting on inspired shows from their living rooms.
Staying at home brought quiet and rest, while at the same time putting into sharp focus what is truly essential, and the self-reliance we’re able to summon when needed.