This is the second in an ongoing series of Pandemic Predictions – posts  exploring what might change over the course of this pandemic—not in terms of the virus, but in terms of our personal, professional, and cultural responses.

I think we may see a return to more simple values and simple lives. This can be a double-edged sword, but I certainly see a lot of good in it.

First, the unfortunate: As cities are now being seen as big hubs of contamination, a lot of folks who have the means will likely move out of dense downtown cores and back out into suburbs, gated communities, and even rural communities. This will reinforce the difference between the haves and the have nots; wealthier people will enjoy the outdoors and grow their own food comfortably, while poorer people in urban centres will not have those luxuries. At least it may disgorge cities a little and perhaps bring down the astronomical, unlivable rent costs.

But other moves toward a simpler life can benefit all of us. I think we’ll see a shifting of the goalposts of our culture overall. People won’t over consume as much, or keep getting the next “it” item (unless you count hand sanitizer and face masks). This tendency to shop for a lot of things has already lessened in younger generations because of their more precarious working lives; I think it will spread further as uncertainty takes hold and we are forced to reevaluate our priorities. What was “essential” to Boomers is not to Gen X-ers, Millennials and Zoomers. Fancy clothing, shoes, and watches are useless right now; we’re looking for a few comfortable clothes we can work at home in. We’re decreasing our need for many material things (except electronics, of course).

People are eating more simply, too, and not eating as much in restaurants, unfortunately for restaurants. We’ll be cooking at home for quite a while, enjoying smaller social gatherings with responsible friends and family rather than crowding into bars with strangers.

I barely cooked at all for the last ten years—I haven’t had the time to really enjoy it, and it was much easier to just get takeout or, more preferably, to eat out with friends. Now I have the time, and I’m so enjoying the full experience again. Getting to immerse myself in each stage of cooking, from the chopping of the herbs to the first smell of the onion and garlic as they warm in the pan, to the final product steaming on my plate, has been a delightful return to simpler ways. I look forward to, soon, being able to invite friends into my home and enjoying these things together.

People are connecting more with neighbours, too. In large cities, people tend not to say hi to each other; you don’t know who lives beside you, and there’s no acknowledgement as you walk beside them. It’s impersonal and isolating. But we’re now enjoying the pleasure of simply saying hello and having a chat with the people we live right next to. At first people were not returning my hellos, there was such a sense of fear; but as we all pace around and around our neighbourhoods (I’m reminded of gerbils) and seeing the same faces day after day, we have begun to greet each other warmly. We can’t go back to not recognizing or acknowledging each other, and so a radical return to an older and simpler way of living, where people know their neighbours, is happening over the course of just a few weeks. Even though we’re distant, there are new human connections forming. It’s remarkable and quite moving.

People are starting seeds, darning clothes, and learning instruments at home. Have you picked up any slower pursuits or returned to simple pleasure?

4 thoughts on “Pandemic Predictions Part Two: The Simple Life”

  1. Hello Dominique and thank you for this blog. I agree with what you are saying – it speaks to me. I do hope we will remember the good side of simple and that we will not go back to our crazy schedules and our habit of wanting more without truly appreciate what we do have. Having said that I find myself asking what I can still contribute – I retired from the Public Service in 2013; took a year off and then did part-time consulting up until last spring. I will be turning 65 this year (cannot believe it!) and I have this little voice that says I could still enjoy my freedom and still contribute in a some way. Not sure what it looks like yet.

    1. Dominique Dennery

      Contente de te lire Suzanne! I am turning 63 and almost put the key under the door when the pandemic hit and then I thought my life experience and what used to be called wisdom could be particularly useful right now. So I have decided to continue to support individuals and some groups through presentations and coaching in a digital world where there are fewer meaningful connections. Going digital means that I have had a learning curve and have been working hard these last two months, but my intention is not to work as I did pre-Covid but to work at what has meaning for me at this time in my life. Funnily enough, I have joined forces with another 60 something colleague, a Psychologist who loves her part-time practice but decided she wanted to contribute more and reached out to me. If all of us sixty something retire for good, the world will be poorer for it. We, you, have so much to contribute. End of rant 🙂 Wishing you well in whatever you choose to do.
      Prends soin de toi!

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