2 min read

Reconnecting with the past in the time of social distancing

Reconnecting with the past in the time of social distancing

When times start to feel uncertain, I get nostalgic. It’s almost reflexive. The earth will feel shaky beneath my feet and so I start to romanticize the past as something simpler, grounded, tethered. That's naive, of course. Each generation goes through its own moments of uncertainty and fear. But when the present feels unsteady, it becomes even harder to visualize the future. What could possibly come next when the present doesn't even make sense? When will be possibly get out of this when every day feels uncertain? And if we can't see the future, there's nothing to look forward to, and so we cling ever more tightly to the past.

This kind of romantic nostalgia can, of course, be a dangerous thing. It's what brought back right-wing nativism and nationalism in the US and Europe. If we're going to Make America Great Again, that means the future is bad and the past was better. It means we start to collectively look back on the past through rose-tinted glasses as though the magic elixir to get through uncertainty is a return to the way things were. Snap your fingers and we’ll time hop to simpler times.

If we look to the past though not as prescription or antiode, but rather as moments of reflection and learning, there’s opportunity. Those who know me also know that I am a history nerd. The blog this week won't have any broad sweeping history lessons, but we’ll have some slower pauses for contemplation. While the ground beneath us feels like it's breaking, we'll dive deeper into the past - not in some excruciating exploration of what came before and what we've lost, but rather as a moment of pause, a moment to dig deeper and reconnect, a moment to reflect on how far we've come and where we have yet to go.

This week, in addition to our usual content, we'll be posting prompts, conversation starters and offer our stories and reflections. Some deep breaths, some deep thinking and some deep handwashing.

We got this.