It almost feels like we’re getting back to normal. Our department had our annual resident research day last week. Although there was a restriction on the number of people we could have in the room, it was a face-to-face meeting—one in which we could laugh, smile, and tease. “Hi Dan! How does it feel to wear a suit for the first time in three months?” “I was a little worried about that getting dressed this morning! You know what they say about the lockdown period: You either come out of it a hunk, a chunk, or a drunk.”
This weekend was my 12-year-old’s first baseball tournament of the season. He loves baseball and had trained all winter for a summer trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., to participate in a national tournament with 100 other teams from across the country. That tournament was cancelled back in March, and we were fearful that there would be no baseball at all this year. You can imagine the excitement and joy we all felt hearing the sounds of baseball last weekend. On the first day of the two-day tournament, parents commented on how wonderful it was to see the boys having fun. By the second day, we fell right back into old habits, urging the kids to hustle and yelling at the umpires for missed calls.
As much as we all want to return to what was normal, however, we need to acknowledge the events of the past three months as a truly life-changing wake-up call. It’s imperative that we incorporate the lessons learned from COVID-19 and the death of George Floyd to make everyone’s lives better, or else all we have left is the pain and sadness of a global pandemic, an economic recession, and yet another example of racism and systematic oppression of people of color.
I have to remember the nightly dinners and daily backyard whiffle ball games with my kids, how good it was to not travel as much, and how the relationships with our loved ones are so much stronger when we truly dedicate time to be together. My new normal will be to restrict work travel to essential trips and to prioritize family above all else.
I have to remember that I didn’t need expensive material goods during the lockdown: Driving a fancy car or saving up for an exotic vacation just wasn’t as important. Many economic pressures are self-generated and can be the cause of the behaviors we may not be proud of. My new normal will be to not let money influence the decisions I make at work or at home.
I have to remember the outrage I felt when I saw the video of George Floyd’s murder and the deep pain in the words of my colleagues and friends who began to tell me of their past experiences with racism and police injustice. Some of those words are shared with you in this issue. My new normal is to put action behind words, to do all I can in my sphere of influence to end racism and promote equality.
Please remember the lessons you learned during this crazy time and join me in creating a better new normal. I’ll need your help to remind me of the goals I’ve written here. You can be assured: I’ll be here for you. Blessings to you and your family. I look forward to our next conversation.