Updated: Jul 28, 2020
It seems like we've been living a surreal existence over the last few months.
And even with the gradual reopenings of businesses, restaurants, and travel opportunities, the conditions we've been living under have created a kind of alternative reality - one in which it's sometimes difficult to remember what "normal" even looks like.
That's why it's essential to maintain some semblance of "reality" in our everyday lives.
In the last few weeks, we've finally been able to meet with some of our friends in person instead of on Zoom. People are slowly and cautiously returning to restaurants where this is possible. And, on a positive note, there has been a renewed interest in spending time outdoors.
Last weekend, we decided to take a drive and hike up to Hanging Rock - a natural outcropping in a state park a little over two hours from our house. It was interesting to see how "abnormal" this seemingly normal activity had become.
In the parking lot, many people were wearing masks. The restroom facilities were still closed, so trees took their place.
On the narrow trail up to the peak, we encountered groups with widely differing approaches to social distancing. Frequently, when we encountered another group, either they would stand to the side and allow us to pass, or we would do the same for them. Sometimes these people would put on masks; other times, they didn't even have masks.
Many times, though, large groups just paraded on by, not even seeming to notice that there were other people on the trail and that it might be considerate to at least attempt to keep some distance. (We talked about this in last week's article.)
As we navigated the trail and talked about the behaviors we observed, we made steady progress towards the top and were ultimately greeted by the view you see in the photo above, where we found a relatively secluded spot to have lunch.
Having hiked in beautiful locations in the US and in Europe, sitting on the edge of a mountain felt perfectly familiar to us.
In fact, it felt...normal.
In the midst of shelter-in-place orders, virtually non-existent travel, and the frustration and isolation these can cause, the simple pleasure of enjoying a view and eating a sandwich - heart still racing from a steep climb - was truly enjoyable.
It was almost a novelty.
But it doesn't have to be that way. In the midst of any difficult situation, it's still possible to create an outlet for relaxation and regeneration. It doesn't have to be as involved as a day trip to hike a mountain - it can be as simple as stepping outside and enjoying the fresh air, calling a friend, or giving yourself time to indulge in a hobby or another activity that makes you smile.
In a normal environment, these moments are important. In this strange reality we find ourselves in today, it's absolutely essential.
What can you do to create a little bit of "normal" in this surreal existence?