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Who will we be as novel survivors?

By Angie Nichols

During this time of enduring somewhat of a worldwide existential crisis, I’ve come to know many new or suppressed feelings.

“Survival mode” has accompanied these thoughts, and fight or flight mode has alternated. Initially, flight mode commenced when hiding seemed the best course — hibernating and living in shock at the sudden turn of events. This appears to alternate with fight mode, with anger, disappointment and dismay, lingering and rearing their ugly heads.

It has been a great time of contemplation, forced and unplanned and very raw and unyielding. All of this is spurred on by what our president refers to as “the invisible enemy.” Health care professionals, grocery workers, truck drivers, scientists, and many others have become our frontline heroes. We’ve struggled with our essentiality during a tragic time, questioning what our role will be now and in the future. I’ve been reminded that we are all “essential” and all play a major role no matter what is situationally deemed as essential. Possibly there are better terms that could have been chosen? I also realize these terms were chosen as a protective mechanism; however, they’re daunting for those with fear of job loss and financial hardship.

Pondering mortality has become an internal dialogue, and many that have passed on due to illness have done so alone. The overbearingness of technology has become, well … more overbearing and now even more of a necessity, yet we feel isolated. I’ve always lived by the saying, “Confusion is the first sign of learning something new.” There are lessons we are learning, surely, with the massive amount of confusion that surrounds us daily. Ruminating on this thought, it occurred to me, as I sewed my next fabric protective mask, “Maybe we ourselves will become novel.” Could we take all of these issues, ideas and actions and become new? Changed even? Could we realize what means most to us, what is truly essential and work to turn it all around?

By no means do I want to downplay the severity of it all and the hard work of members of our society during this challenging time, and I am forever grateful to those who are sacrificing their time and health to care for others. I do, however, believe that there will be a silver lining and think of it as a reset button that has been pressed, and we’re all working tirelessly to ensure it all “boots” back up as normal. Though I don’t prefer the word normal at all. Maybe our new existence following all of this will be something better, with people continuing to come together as they are now, to make our community and world a better place. What or who are your essentials? Not the acute or situational type, but those core to your being; your happiness and ability to thrive. Religion, family, health, friends, altruistic work? Are the non-essentials worthy of your time now?

When the “invisible enemy” leaves us, what will be left, who will we be as novel survivors, what will our essentials be? I’m praying we will lean further into God’s word, acknowledge and be grateful for our rights and freedom in our country, and work altruistically for our communities. This pandemic has brought new issues with it but also placed the spotlight on many that have existed for years, those which we could continue our focused efforts on such as better health practices, helping others in need, spending more time engaged face to face with others, and finally focusing whole-heartedly on those individually chosen essentials in your life. All of these pertinent issues illuminated by a dark time, imagine that! Who will the “novel” you be?

“And if you give yourself to the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness and your gloom will become like midday.” Isaiah 58:10

Angela S. Nichols is a Suffolk resident and nurse educator.