Dust off old musical instruments, appreciate the outdoors more meaningfully, throw away the hair dye and let the gray fly forever.
The pandemic disrupted our traditions, practices and activities, how we mark milestones, what we do with our time, what is important in our routines. He replaced old with new, a kind of new that could stay.
Nearly three years after the World Health Organization declared the deadly spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, there’s a lot of old life mixed in with the new. And, yes, the latter includes plenty of Zooming that still takes place between families, colleagues and friends, near and far.
Here’s a look at the pandemic passions that for some are here to stay:
That saxophone in the corner. The piano that looks really nice in the living room but was rarely played. People picked up their instruments again, some after decades, to flex their musical muscles.
They are not looking for concert careers, but are dedicated to their rediscovery.
Bob Dorobis in Middletown, New Jersey worked hard to improve his guitar during the pandemic after a long hiatus. Now, the 70-year-old software developer is looking forward to more hands-on time in retirement.
“When your fingers sound good, it’s very rewarding,” he said. “I finally realized that the only way I would like it better is to learn it better.”
The post-lockdown economy wasn’t kind to Peloton when its stock closed, as many pandemic newbies lost their taste. Many, but not all. We have the newcomers who love each other seriously.
Amidst all the spinning, people who haven’t worked out in years are now committing to running, working up to half marathons and beyond.
We have cycling fans who haven’t ridden since childhood. And we have walkers who have mapped out where to find the best cats to visit and are firm on their feline walk.
Beth Lehman, a nanny from Greenville, New York, got on a bike for the first time in years while teaching one of her young charges during the pandemic. Now, the entire family she works for rides with her, including a grandfather in his mid-80s.
“I faked confidence,” he said of getting back on two wheels.
Friendliness of the neighborhood
Craving for company, we took to lawns, sidewalks, and cul-de-sacs to check in on each other. We brought home-made soups to the old people’s enclosures. We turned arms full of fresh-cut flowers from our gardens. We stayed for a chat with social distance.
Commitments continue with random acts of kindness aimed at seniors living alone, with neighborhood schedules made for snow shoveling and cake delivery for the holidays.
Lisa and Larry Neula in Sacramento, California shared the gift of aloha with their neighbors. She was a competitive Hawaiian dancer and hula instructor and he was a member of the famous Lim Family Singers of Kohala.
Together, they entertained their neighbors during the pandemic from their driveway and continue their performances there today.
“If you have one person who shows that they want to be social, other people come around. It becomes contagious,” Lisa said. “I don’t want to take all the credit, but it makes me a better person.”
Gardening became quiet healing. It was also a way to get extra exercise and grow fresh food.
This meant that old, leafy shrubs that were once a chore became manicured assets that are a joy to look after. More lawns were torn up to plant native plant gardens and wildflower meadows, and the vegetable garden saw a boom.
Gardening has new and lasting lovers.
“Now, I rarely watch TV,” said Kelly Flor-Robinson in Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Some women threw hair dye. Some of their dryers.
They have chosen to embrace their curly and gray inner self. Today, they don’t mind going back after almost three years of natural hair.
“In March 2020, right after everyone was basically shut down, I ignored my calendar reminder to do the root touch-up and ignored the next one and the next one and so on,” said Susan Cuccinello in Ossining, New York. .
“I remember when the salons started to open again and several of my friends were so relieved that they could dye their hair and roots again. It didn’t sway me one bit. And my hair is actually thicker and longer healthy. Plus, it’s great to crush another relic of the patriarchy!”
Others ditched the makeup and wires. They once considered both as a necessity, but they were released separately. They still happily go without.
With a new embrace of the outdoors, some sports attracted new enthusiasts.
Pickleball picked up players, increasing its fan base and expanding the demand for courts. This has upset a tennis player or two, or four.
For others, it was golf.
In Maplewood, New Jersey, Matthew Peyton and his son, Julian, discovered golf together. Julian now works as a fitter at a sporting goods store and is looking at college golf programs. They had never played before.
“So here I am. Single parent with an active 15-year-old who won’t be in school for two years,” he said. “We don’t know what’s safe. We don’t knock on doorknobs or go to the store. But the golf course is our refuge. You’re 300 yards from anyone else all by yourself. It’s like a private oasis.”
THE ZOOM BOOM
We’re still logging a lot of Zoom time for work, book club, family visits, and catching up with old friends. But there are other enduring uses that were born out of the necessity of the pandemic.
Brides and grooms stream their weddings, for example, or Zoom memorials for lost loved ones.
Today’s non-work zooms, with real life back in evolution, have thoroughly engaged devotees. So do webinars, from art history to virtually exploring an exotic location.
Samantha Martin, who splits her time between New York and West Palm Beach, Florida, relied heavily on Zoom and WhatsApp to visit loved ones back home in Hong Kong and around the world. This morphed into “Sunday Stories,” a practice that continues today.
“Every Sunday night I have dinner or breakfast, depending on the time difference, with a friend or family member from around the world,” Martin said. “The calendar is full one to two months in advance.”
The world shut down, and that included a lot of extracurricular soccer, chess, and Mandarin for the kids. For some families, the slower pace caught on and they may be down to one after-school session a week.
The opposite happens with other families. Some children picked up new activities because they were available during the pandemic and are happy to continue them.
LESS SHOPPING AT THE STORE
Curbside pickup. Grocery delivery. These mainstays of pandemic life are new priorities for some former shopaholics.
“I used to enjoy grocery shopping, but this saves me a lot of time and overspending on my end, so I stuck with it,” said Amanda Sheronas Spencer in Malvern, Pennsylvania.
“If I go in person, I have to stick to my list, which is hard for someone who loves food and cooking! Grocery stores are like shiny objects to me.”
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