Amy Roberts: It’s been a year
Exactly one year ago I typed the words “the coronavirus” for the first time in this paper, and admittedly, back then I assumed it was little more than a temporary inconvenience. In March of 2020 I wrote, “Personally, I’m not especially worried about the coronavirus. I grew up in a house that had carpet in the bathrooms, drank Boone’s wine in college, and was once bit by a baboon during a tug-of-war over a loaf of bread, which I later ate. I’m pretty sure my immune system is next-level.” Then I added this gem, “Like all good outbreaks, the headlines and the hysteria will eventually move on.”
Roughly 365 days later, we haven’t exactly moved on. And back in December, I did test positive for COVID. So I guess the lesson here is that foreshadowing isn’t my forte.
While my crystal ball may have a bit of a crack in it, I do have the ability to reflect and process the past 12 months. It’s always easier to review where you’ve been than it is to predict where you’re going. We all know what didn’t happen — vacations, concerts, celebrations, even haircuts. But knowing when they’ll return without restrictions and precautions, when it will once again be socially acceptable to plan a wedding or a birthday party, or even have friends over for dinner, is still a bit of a gamble. Unabashed excitement about a future event still leans towards foolish. And as I reflect on the past year of life in a pandemic, I think this has been the biggest challenge. That’s not to underscore a job loss or homeschooling or having to hold a funeral via Zoom — those have all been extraordinary hardships too. But as humans, we are hardwired to anticipate positive future events. Something that’s been in short supply over the past year.
Excitement and hope are powerful and motivating forces. When we have something to look forward to, we are better able to manage life’s “have to” list because we know there is a “want to” on the other side of it. Having something to look forward to allows us to imagine the future we’re optimistic about, and it neutralizes our natural state of anxiety — all of those horrible “what if” scenarios we run through our heads. Further, when the long-expected moment finally arrives, we tend to savor and appreciate it more given we’ve been anticipating it for so long. We’re also more prone to reflect back on the experience once the moment has passed and recall fond memories. All of this boosts our mental health.
But for the past year, all of this has been stolen from us. And we can’t even look forward to getting it back. At least not with any specific certainty of a date. It feels like it’s coming, there’s hope on the horizon, but few of us are willing to put down a deposit and confirm big plans anytime soon. In a lot of ways, we aren’t much different than a donkey who needs a carrot dangling over its head in order to continue moving forward. We are motivated by purpose and reward.
So for the time being, I’m trying to focus on looking forward to the little things to get me through. Summit County is crushing the vaccine rollout and I’m scheduled to receive my shot in the arm later this week. My family is planning to visit soon and, assuming there’s some snow left, I’ll be teaching my niece how to ski. The sandhill cranes are back – I’ve noticed them on the Rail Trail weeks earlier than usual. The hummingbirds can’t be too far behind. All of this means longer days, warmer weather and, hopefully, a shift towards a marginally normal summer with live music and Silly Sundays and parades. In a normal year, none of this would be especially exciting. But for now, I’m really looking forward to normal.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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