Coping With Our New Normal

Illustration by Ran Zheng

I wish we were reading about burgers, the Hudson Valley’s best burgers. That was the May feature story we had planned to present this month, “58 Great Burgers Worth the Drive.” Instead, we offer an issue attempting to make the most of this perilous time here at home, and hopefully provide a brief escape and some small comfort in your new routine.

Life in the time of COVID-19 is scary, strange, and filled with worry. We work from home and connect on video conferencing software. Our weddings, birthdays, and celebrations are cancelled, postponed, or relegated to a screen.  We’ve lost the ability to safely engage and express our basic human embraces like a handshake, a hug, or a kiss hello.   

I fear for our well-being, especially those in higher risk categories like our seniors or people with respiratory vulnerabilities. I also worry about the valiant first responders and healthcare practitioners that face this virus repeatedly, without sufficient protection. I deeply admire their courage, selflessness, and dedication to willingly care for others in the face of such adversity.

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I worry too about the mental stress of the families facing the virus first-hand, when a loved one gets sick or dies, as the numbers of the afflicted continue to grow all around us. This rising pressure and emotional weight has radically disrupted our professional lives, as well, with countless jobs lost and businesses on the brink of viability, or even shuttered.

Our bleak new normal is here.  But hopefully, it won’t be for long.

On the bright side, I’m proud of our American ingenuity and the many great stories showing our spirit of charity and resiliency. Stories like companies transforming to make needed machines and products, chefs of closed restaurants making food for those in need, and retired healthcare workers volunteering to join the frontline. I know we will get through this, and I believe we’ll leave this grim time behind and be a better and more prepared society on the other side. A more appreciative society, too.

In the meantime, I’ll try to not let the isolation get me down. I’ll do my part to keep my neighbor safe, lift up my family as best I can, and support our local businesses and charities here in the Hudson Valley.

For now, that big juicy burger worth the drive will have to be a take-out order, while we dream of a better day.

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