Dust off your old instruments, appreciate the outdoors more meaningfully, ditch your hair dye, and let your gray hair fly forever.
The pandemic has disrupted our traditions, practices, pursuits, how we mark milestones, how we use our time and what is important in our routines. It replaced the old with the new.
Almost three years after the World Health Organization declared the deadly spread of COVID-19 a pandemic, many of the old and new lives are mixed. And yes, the latter includes plenty of zooms that are still going on among family, co-workers, and friends, near and far.
Here we look at the pandemic passions that make some stay here.
That sax in the corner. It is a piano that is likely to be placed in the living room, but it was hardly played. People picked up instruments again decades later to exercise their musical muscles.
They aren’t looking for a concert career, but they’re dedicated to rediscovering it.
Middletown, New Jersey resident Bob Drovis worked hard to improve his guitar fingerpicking after a long hiatus during the pandemic. The now 70-year-old software developer looks forward to practice time after retirement.
“It’s very rewarding when your fingerpicking sounds good,” he said. “I finally realized that the only way I could love it more was to learn it better.”
The post-lockdown economy wasn’t kind to the peloton when stocks crashed as many pandemic newbies lost their mojo. A newcomer is taking it seriously.
In a circle, people who haven’t exercised in years are now committed to running, running half marathons and beyond.
There are bicycle enthusiasts who haven’t ridden since childhood. And we have walkers who plan the best places to find cats to visit and are obsessed with letting cats wander on foot.
Beth Lehman, a nanny in Greenville, N.Y., hopped on a bike for the first time in years while teaching one of her young fees during the pandemic. The whole family she works for rides with her.
“I faked my confidence,” she said of riding motorcycles again.
kindness of neighbors
Desperate to be together, we stood on lawns, sidewalks, and cul-de-sacs to check in on each other. We delivered homemade soup to seniors who are withdrawn. We turned back a handful of fresh cut flowers from our garden.
Commitment to random acts of kindness for seniors living alone continues, with neighborhood schedules including snow shoveling and pie deliveries on holidays.
Lisa and Larry Neula of Sacramento, California shared the gift of Aloha with their neighbors. She is a competitive Hawaiian dancer and hula instructor, and he is a member of Kohala’s famous Limu Her Family Her Singer.
Together, they entertained their neighbors from their driveway during the pandemic and continue to perform there today.
“If there’s one person who wants to be social, other people will like it. It becomes contagious,” said Lisa. “I don’t want to take all the credit, but it makes me a better person.”
Gardening turned into restful curation. It was also a way to get extra exercise and grow fresh food.
That meant that bushy old shrubs that were once chores became well-kept assets that were a joy to care for. Vegetable gardens boomed as more grass lawns were torn up to plant native plant gardens and wildflower meadows.
Gardening has a new enduring enthusiast.
“I rarely watch TV now,” said Kelly Flo Robinson of Bethany Beach, Delaware.
Some women threw up hair dye. Some blow dryers.
They chose to embrace their inner curly and gray hair. Today, they can’t be bothered to go back after about three years of natural hair.
“In March 2020, just after everyone was basically in lockdown, I ignored calendar reminders to make route corrections, and then one after another.
“When salons started reopening, I remember some of my friends being so relieved to get their hair and roots dyed again. Hair is actually thicker and healthier.
Others have given up on makeup and underwire. They once thought they needed both, but were released in isolation.
The newfound exposure to the outdoors has attracted new enthusiasts to some sports.
Pickleball acquired players, expanded its fan base, and increased demand for its courts. It confused one, two, or four tennis players.
For others, it was golf.
In Maplewood, New Jersey, Matthew Peyton and his son Julian worked together on a game of golf. Julian is currently working as a fitter in a sports shop and has his sights set on his program of college golf.
“So there I am, a single father with a 15-year-old active teen boy who hasn’t been to school for two years,” he said. “I don’t know what’s safe. I don’t touch doorknobs or go to stores. But the golf course is our haven. You’re alone and 300 yards away from other people. Private.” The place is like an oasis.”
I still record a lot of Zoom time at work, in book clubs, visiting family, and meeting old friends. But there are other enduring uses born out of pandemic necessity.
For example, a bride and groom may stream their wedding ceremony or a Zoom video commemorating a deceased loved one.
Today’s non-work Zoom is back in real life and has a totally devoted following.
Between New York and West Palm Beach, Florida, Samantha Martin relied heavily on Zoom and WhatsApp to visit loved ones in her hometown of Hong Kong and around the world. It turned into “Sunday talk” and she continues that tradition today.
“Every Sunday night, depending on the time difference, we have dinner or breakfast with friends and family from all over the world,” said Martin. “The calendar is full for him a month or two ahead.”
The world was closed and included a lot of football, chess and Chinese for kids after school. In some families the pace has slowed down and he has been reduced to one extracurricular activity per week.
The opposite is true for other families. Some children picked new activities that were available during the pandemic and are excited to continue with them.
Decrease in in-store shopping
curbside pickup. grocery delivery. These mainstays of pandemic life are new priorities for some ex-store enthusiasts.
“I used to enjoy grocery shopping, and I keep doing it because it saves me so much time and money,” said Amanda Sheronas Spencer of Malvern, Pennsylvania.
“If I go personally, I have to stick to a list. This is difficult for someone who loves food and cooking. Grocery stores are like glowing objects to me.”
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