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Plan now for life after pandemic

It may be premature to plan a post-pandemic life, but I don’t think so.

It starts with this premise: When the vaccine becomes available to you — get vaccinated. Embrace this opportunity. Cherish it. Hold it as tight as you would the hug you look forward to from a grandchild you have not wrapped your arms around in almost a year.

Stay hunkered down. Try to look at sheltering in place through a new lens. Consider having challenge matches around that 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle you got for Christmas. Dig out more old board games. Play them using different rules. Make chocolate bombs (semi-sweet chocolate, hot cocoa, mini marshmallows, crushed candy canes). My daughter tells me, “Mom, they’ve blown up on TikTok!”

Not familiar with TikTok yet? In a post-pandemic world, you will be.

Staying with practical near-term suggestions, I know we all yearn to have naked faces once again, but the best advice is to follow the mask-wearing, social-distancing protocols until the test positivity is zero or close to zero. Some experts say that will be spring/summer, some say longer. You might need a summer look for your face coverings. Don’t grumble — get something that matches your eyes.

Post-pandemic, we know, will include less hand-shaking and more hand washing. Zoom will have become your forever-friend. You will no longer take traveling to see extended family for granted and will never again act puzzled about the meaning of the word “epidemiologist.” In a post-pandemic world you will hold “disease detectives” and our vaccine developers in high esteem. Start now.

I think it’s fair to say none of us were ready for the epic changes forced upon us up by COVID-19. I do not intend to be caught off guard in that way again. I am using the highly rated book by Fareed Zakaria, a Harvard Ph.D., “Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World,” as my road map for 2021 and beyond. If you received a copy as a holiday gift, you have very smart people in your bubble.

Zakaria, a Washington Post columnist and CNN Global Public Square (GPS) host, opens with, “There are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen.” The main lesson of the book is simple, “Buckle up.”

Zakaria calls COVID-19 “one of three shocks to systems in the last three decades, noting that it is nothing like anything experienced in the world before it.” The other two shocks were the 9/11 attacks and the global financial crisis of 2008.

Some reviewers suggest the book is too heavy, even “gloomy,” but others, and I am one, suggest it “celebrates our resilient world.” We can actually “gain strength through chaos and crisis.” There is another book to ensure you do that. It’s called “Radical Resilience: When There’s No Going Back to the Ways Things Were” by the now-deceased Alice Updike Scannell. It’s practical, spiritual, hopeful. If nobody gave you that book for Christmas, I suggest you purchase a copy for yourself. It also suggests we should “Buckle Up,” and it tells us how.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University professor emeritus. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.