There’s a lot of talk out there about what a terrible year 2020 has been. For many, it’s been a year of walking through fire. First responders must have that thought, at least from time to time. It’s been a year of adjustments for most of us. Even if you don’t socialize, your life has been disrupted more than usual by newscasts that remind you of the horror of things beyond your control. Fear and anger, disbelief and outrage all have taken a toll on your sanity.

Nonetheless, we humans are adaptable. We bob and weave as the punches come our way. We head into a new year with some lessons learned and coping mechanisms added. There are changes in routines, improvements in everyday life and new ways of operating that can benefit us in the years ahead. Many are obvious, hopefully some are not and a few haven’t been realized quite yet.

The Obvious

One of the first things we heard from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised us to properly wash our hands and not touch our faces with our hands. We had heard that before, but with greater application of these advices, cold and flu numbers are lower than usual.

People can work from home. Who knew? Well, at least to this scale. Many businesses are sure to use this model more in post-pandemic times. It’s likely to save employers money and help reduce air pollution with long-term lighter traffic.

Not So Obvious

I recently read an issue of IBPA Independent, a magazine from Independent Book Publishers Association. It was the July/August, 2020 issue. The theme of that issue was coping and adjusting to the effects of COVID-19 on the publishing business.

One of the articles illustrated how independent publishers can be more flexible than the major companies. For example, “Stormbird Press went from releasing four titles at a time to single releases that get full marketing attention for two months before the next title comes out.” They are focusing on increased reader interaction during the post-release period in the hope of developing deeper commitment to their authors, their messages and their titles. It is hoped this approach will be more sustainable than the prior program.

For musical groups that are avoiding traditional rehearsal, there are online solutions. A church choir I’m part of meets on Zoom. Because the system has lags, we can’t all sing together at the same time. The director or pianist can play or sing and we can sing along with our voices muted. We record songs individually to tracks that help us keep our rhythm. I’ve discovered a better solution for the trio I play with and that is JamKazam, a platform that offers the opportunity to make music in sync. That will surely be used more going forward than it was before the pandemic.

On a personal level, we can learn how to creatively deal with isolation. Some folks find it easier than others. There are ways of embracing solitude that might not occur to the super-social. For instance, sitting in meditation allows a person to feel a strong connection to one’s fellow spiritual beings. Expansion of the awareness of self to a greater sphere can bring about a sense of oneness with the universe.

Coming Down the Pike

This world is always full of uncertainty. Currently, we can multiply that by two at least. What’s coming in 2021? It’s a scary question on several fronts. A presidential coup d’etat attempt? Civil unrest or even civil war? Vaccination issues? Economic recovery challenges such as dying small businesses and unemployment?

When we reach the point that it’s deemed by the CDC to disregard social distancing, whether that comes in 2021 or later, there will be a variety of speeds at which people will be willing to resume pre-pandemic habits. Going to social and religious events, maskless, hugging each other, eating together and laughing at short range will give many of us pause when we attempt to return to normal. How to act will be something to grapple with for those who were careful about observing protocols meant to slow the spread of the virus.

I’m confident our experiences thus far will guide us through the uncomfortable situations ahead. With the possible exception of chaos and havoc the outgoing quasi-President manages to inflict on the American people, I believe we will be able to use the same tools we have in 2020 to bring us through the challenges of the future.

Our Tools

As a nation, we have learned a great deal about moving out of our comfort zone, about pulling together, about patience and much more. As we face the unknown, these manifestations of flexibility, love and teamwork will serve us well. May it be so.