Late in September the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade published the results of a survey conducted in cooperation with the Cleveland Clinic. The survey, taken in June, asked people about different ways the pandemic has changed their lives in terms of a health and wellness. While the pandemic is once again surging, there certainly are some interim lessons to be learned, and they are reflected in that survey. For instance, 62% of those surveyed indicated that had adopted at least one healthy change in their lives. Changes focused on diet, exercise, stress management and so on. 25% indicated that they are more likely to get a flu shot this year than in the past. And so on.
The statistic that most intrigued me indicated that 65% of those questioned said they had gained a new perspective on what really matters in life. I know that's true for me. For instance, while I have always valued music, and really enjoy singing, I now understand more fully just how important congregational or group singing is my life. I so miss being able to sing hymns with my congregation, or the club song with my fellow Rotarians. Such singing creates a sense of unity, a feeling of togetherness, and a bit of harmony midst a world filled with dissonance.
Unfortunately singing in group settings is a potential super-spreader, and highly discouraged by medical experts. Sure we can hum together, we can listen as a soloist sings (so long as we are at a distance)--but it's just not the same. When the day finally comes when such singing is deemed safe by medical experts I for one will sing out, "Hallelujah!"--and not necessarily Handel!
There are more significant things that I've learned to treasure anew because of the pandemic--the ability to spend time with distant family members, the importance of faith and in particular its communal expressions, the value of community. All of those in many ways are more important than singing. But still, I can't wait (well, actually I will wait) for the day when I can stand up with others and belt out a good tune.
(Note: The full results of the survey were reported in "America's New Normal," Parade, September 27, 2020)