It has been an interesting experience when we start thinking about how this whole year from March 2020 has changed many of our lives. Fortunately, in my case, I was retiring from my work after 37 years and had to transition to a new routine. Initially, when the fear struck in our minds with the possibilities of severe impact to any one of the family members due to Covid-19, we began approaching everything with extreme caution. Fortunately, both of my grown-up kids came back home to stay with us after 6 or 7 years of staying outside the home. So collectively, it was a huge adjustment for all of us. We had plans to travel around the country after retirement and unable to move out of the house was a huge blow to that plan.

The stress level was much higher during the initial days of the pandemic. So, we each had to come up with our own plans to set boundaries and what we can and can not do so that one person’s selfish behavior will not hurt others. Right from day one, all of us wore masks whenever we went to a store or any public place. We set up our morning and evening walking/biking routine as a couple or as a parent so that we were still outside to some extent but could interact to talk through the day’s events and what we can do to change the monotony this pandemic has brought in our lives. Jogging in the morning became my favorite ritual instead of going to Gym. We routinely met a few people walking regularly and the fact we had to stay 10 ft away from the neighbors with whom we had dinners and attended parties looked very odd but understandable. We felt like total strangers when we crossed on our sidewalks outside the apartment complex!

Our routines to interact with close relatives and friends changed. Regular phone calls have become zoom calls and one on one calls have become weekly group calls. Sharing the stories across the world during this pandemic felt like we all live in one place (earth) and going through the same troubles at the same time whether we work or retired! Days started running together and weekends disappeared from our minds. Looking forward to a slow day never existed since we had to fill the days with some activities to have a positive outlook.

Reading books, playing cards every night as a family, cooking new dishes (thanks to some Instagram posts motivation) have become a daily routine. Reorganized the house and changed locations of furniture a few times to just change the atmosphere within the couped-up space helped and even that did not make a big difference. Watched sunset almost every evening and looking forward to a beautiful evening walk, or walking on the beach (away from people as much as possible) has become more exciting, and capturing small events/sceneries that happened all around on phone became a passion. Nobody had to tell us “stop and smell the roses” and we watched every plant and flowers bloom all around us. Never knew there were so many shows and Netflix series until this Pandemic.

Yes, there were days, stress was running high in the family when expectations were not met and how we had to all stay in the house and some other friends were doing cool things all around the world! But then you watch the news and read about the number of people infected or succumbed to the virus’s grip, then we came right back to the fact it is better to be safe than sorry!

Grown-up kids became counselors when the parents’ relationship went through high-stress levels, and parents had to stay within their boundaries and advise when kids were going crazy because they were not able to meet friends or party during this pandemic. When a simple daily routine (which took years to develop) changes, we all have a hard time understanding and adapting to new routines. Blaming game starts when no one is at fault.

Nature has a way of teaching us simple things on this planet that need our attention can not be ignored and we are all born not only to work but to live a good life and enjoy more often.  We all learned that work can be accomplished from any part of the world in some cases. This pandemic has brought our family together more closer, extended family to interact more often, taught us ways to make money sitting at home, value our time, and taught us how to relax under very stressful times. Many of us could also help our older parents remotely who could not move around or software savvy. Thanks to all the new support systems that revolved around food delivery, video calling, and online shopping we could go through this period unscathed mentally and physically.

Kannan Rengarajan