If it takes 21 days to create a new habit, what the hell are we creating now? We all knew somewhere deep down that this pandemic would change us all. The more optimistic among us hoped that whatever happened we would adapt. The pessimistic viewed it as the end of the world as we know it. Perhaps both are right.
A lot of habits have been broken. Gyms are closed so exercise is harder. There is valiant effort from personal trainers to put courses online and even more valiant effort to push aside the table in front of the couch and try to follow along, but let’s be honest, running within a kilometer of home and doing jumping jacks in your living room while your cat judges you is not the same thing as playing 5 on 5 soccer or tackling a body attack class.
Cultural habits are taking a hit. You can try to jam with your band via Houseparty but it’s not the same acoustically or socially. Choirs are silent too. Ceramic wheels and ballerinas don’t spin. Books sit in libraries while no one sits in cinemas. There is no more running into people, no more stumbling upon, no more discovery that is not virtual. In a city that thrives on spontaneous cultural eruptions, our public spaces are empty.
Grooming has been left by the wayside. People sit at home with Robinson Crusoe beards and scratch a mark each day into their walls while staring out the window like a castaway. Many a man goes unscaped. The lines for barbershops when they can reopen will look like the post office today.
50 days is a long time. Not even Jesus asks us to go without for that long. Certain contacts are already starting to fade from memory. In the beginning we had group calls and e-apéros but now the demands of day to day life have made those moments fewer and farther between. Casual colleagues and acquaintances have no place in your personal confinement.
Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe the relationships that make it through confinement give proof that they are the ones worth keeping. Maybe we had spread ourselves too thinly and the coronavirus is a chance for a reset.
It certainly is a reset in terms of appreciation. When everything that we take for granted is ripped away we are left only with our desires and few ways to fulfill them. Getting those pleasures back requires collaboration and patience, virtues that have become less important over the last few decades.
There is no choice now but to wait. Wait for shops to open to be able to go shopping again. Wait for social events to be able to dress up again. Wait for gyms to reopen to go back to believing that one day you will have that six pack. Wait for travel to be a thing so that you can sip a Campari in Monterosso or eat massaman in Krabi.
The longer we wait for pleasure, the more we appreciate it. If our new habit is patience, then that will be one net good to come out of this mess.