As we approach the one-year mark of the Covid pandemic, let’s stop and take stock. Depending on where you live and who you are, the “Covid experience” can be like night and day. Some have lost loved ones, their livelihood, their health. Others are chugging along, more or less as usual, albeit wearing masks, working from home, and indefinitely postponing travel.
I live in Vancouver, a city with relatively low Covid rates. I’m among the lucky ones in the latter group. We Vancouverites should have zero complaints. The virus itself is a terrible thing, but hasn’t the shutdown and the “new normal” brought positive changes, too? Let’s look for silver linings. I’ll go first.
ZOOM YOGA One year ago I was a confirmed non-video person. Not anti video, but simply a non user. Suddenly I had to pivot to virtual yoga teaching. I had to upgrade my tech equipment, learn about webcams and mics, test video-meetings apps, and adapt to onscreen communication. The pandemic nudged me into the 21st century.
MASKS At first I found masks uncomfortable. But I don’t mind them anymore. I sometimes like the modicum of anonymity a mask provides—and it keeps my face warm in freezing temperatures. Even post Covid, I might wear a mask every winter to avoid cold and flu viruses. Do you know anyone who’s caught a cold this season?
SOLITUDE I’m an introvert. I can be sociable and outgoing, but I need to balance people time with alone time. So social distancing is not difficult for me. I enjoy solitude. I like eating at home. I can spend hours reading, writing, practicing yoga, living in my own head. I’m never bored. Note: I do have two significant others (one is canine and larger than life). And I do depend on the Internet to feel connected.
EXERCISE Since last March I’ve done early morning hill walks/jogs three times weekly. I typically reserve this routine for summer and stop in October when the rainy season starts. This year I’m still at it—now wearing wool and Gore-Tex! Looks like I’ll make it all the way to this March, no stops!
HYGIENE I’m a bit of a germophobe, so I’m all for the new cleaning protocols. My dentist ran a pristine office before Covid, but now it’s armed with even more powerful suction units, HEPA filters, antimicrobial foggers, and so forth. Businesses now limit occupancy, ventilate with open windows and doors, require mask use, and disinfect countertops and card machines. I’ve always carried a tiny bottle of Purell in my bag, but now I can find hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. Yes!
NO COMMUTE When yoga studios and community centres had to shut down last year, I missed seeing my yoga students in person. But I suddenly had no commute. Now I rarely drive or ride the bus. Teaching from home is a major time saver. My students agree; some who formerly took one in-person class now take two or three Zoom classes weekly.
MY NEIGHBORHOOD I’ve always loved my neighborhood, Kitsilano, a mix of leafy residential streets, lots of parks and beaches, and commercial thoroughfares along Broadway and West 4th Avenue. But I now appreciate its walkability even more. I can find everything I need—groceries, banks, library, post office, dog-walking destinations—within walking distance.
DOG TIME You probably assume that my sadhana (daily philosophical discipline) is my yoga practice. Well, it might actually be my dog time: morning training drills, afternoon walks. Stella, almost 80 pounds of pure energy and athleticism (plus random bursts of impulsiveness), is both joy and challenge. This beautiful beast tests me physically, mentally, emotionally. This past year, sans commute, I rarely had to rush my time with her—and even taught her a few new tricks.
CINEMA AND TV The shutdown might be saving me commute time but, go figure, I feel busier than ever. Who are those people baking sourdough bread and rewatching all seven seasons of Mad Men? Currently, all I can manage is a “whenever I have time” retrospective of Wes Anderson’s movies in chronological order (I most recently viewed one of my faves, The Darjeeling Limited). I don’t watch much TV, but highly recommend Ted Lasso on Apple TV+.
Of course I miss some aspects of the “old normal.” I want to travel, to visit faraway family and friends, to sit in a cafe, to see people’s smiles. But I know full well that I’m fortunate—and that my “new normal” ain’t all that bad.
Image: Hastings Mill Park, Vancouver, December 2020, Luci Yamamoto.