Optimistically flexing and adapting can frame our future in uncertainty

Pre-2020, life was stable and predictable. Schools, workplaces, our recreation, and gatherings were regular as clockwork. However, in early 2020 our world was interrupted and our future disrupted. Rather than longing for the predictability of the past, we must now accept the inevitability of change as a constant. I believe when we accede to this, we will be able to optimistically navigate a way ahead. One example is the masks-on/masks-off cycle.

We are in winter in Australia, to be honest it’s more like a cool summer compared to winter in other parts of the world, and much of the nation is in a hard lockdown. Delta has its hold; we are mostly confirmed to our homes. This variant is taking root through people in proximity in indoor environments. My husband and I work from home, we Zoom with family and friends, and like many resign ourselves to the imposed social rules and get on with it. We look toward a time when we no longer need to mask up when we leave our home. Perhaps that mindset needs to change.

Instead of thinking of masks as a pandemic Band-Aid, maybe we can consider them an obvious fixture of our future, even beyond SARS-CoV-2’s global reign… We can, and should, expect masking to wax and wane as risk waxes and wanes. (The Atlantic, Aug 2021)

Sigh. The carrot before us was that vaccines would mean freedom from masks. But now, I’m beginning to embrace them as a way toward a new freedom, a reframed freedom where perhaps masks will become a seasonal accessory like a scarf or gloves even for the vaccinated.

(If this is so, I have no doubt that clever people will iterate and redesign the humble masks to make their long-term wearability more comfortable).

The overarching challenge that this amplifies is the need to stretch our capacity to be flexible and adaptable as we face the path ahead. I’m an optimist. I know the future is not going to be the same, but it is going to be OK.