We can all remember walking along the beach as children, usually with our folks holding our hands. Many out east go to a beach daily, others just during a tough stretch to stare out over the sea, perhaps wondering what might happen next. Every new year brings change. To meet that change sometimes one might have to re-invent oneself. Perhaps, due to COVID-19, many folks understand this more than ever before.
While walking along the sea you see and feel the power of huge wide-open space. There is a freedom that comes during those walks to entertain a whole host of ideas, thoughts, and even memories. I, for one, can feel the memories of folks long gone while sailing or walking along the beaches. As we age, we all occasionally have wonderful memories of our youth too.
Lately a phrase thrown around is: “when things get back to normal.” In my sixty-something years, I’ve realized that the reality is things never go back to normal – over time things just become the new normal. For example, years back I used to fly to and from Washington D.C. on the Eastern Air Line Shuttle. I would just show up to the airport, go to the gate, and walk onto the plane. No reservation, no advance tickets, and no real security like today. The planes left every hour on the hour, the seats were on a first come basis, and you paid for the tickets ($75.00) the same way you now purchase treats on a plane: the flight attendants would just go up and down the plane and collect the fare as if you were on the LIRR. The promise was: “If you get there on time and the airplane is filled, we will roll out a whole new airplane – even if it’s just for you!” Due to mergers and then the attempted shoe bomber, along with 9-11-2001, all that has changed quite a bit to what we now call “the new normal.” The new normal is a need to arrive two hours before the plane is scheduled to leave, with a ticket in hand to go through security. Even then the plane might be overbooked. At the moment you can add the ultra-new normal of COVID tests and temperatures being taken before being allowed to board with mandatory mask wearing at all times.
At this point in time, the whole world is confused as to what to do to get back to a normal pattern of life with work and pleasure being safe. In truth, no one is ever totally safe, but as a society we try to put in measures to make everyone “less at risk.” In times of trouble, I always try to pick and take the best advice. I seek out doctors for sickness, lawyers for legal problems, etc. During this COVID-19 crisis, I have had the opinions of a handful of doctors, some I have known for over 50 years. The bizarre thing is there is no consensus, not one single answer or prediction of when things will be back to normal.
Instead, we live with an evolving “new normal” of wearing masks, staying six feet apart in public, no live music concerts, limited indoor dining with limited hours, and many folks working from home – if they are working at all. I am now watching friends who own businesses once again reinvent the way they do things. I have witnessed folks who have failed and lost everything. I have also witnessed a few who have mastered this disaster and are making records amounts of money. That’s what change does, it creates big losers and big winners while the rest of us try to hold on to what we have until we get comfortable to call things normal again.
For Long Islanders, especially those out on the East End, there are many beaches on the bays, along the ocean or hugging the sound. Sandy beaches to walk along to find solace, in order to figure things out. To think things out or just to remember to dream and plan. My older brother used to say, “If you don’t ride the wave of change, you will get crushed by it.” However truthful that may be while passing through the most of difficult times, I say, “Out east the beach is always there for you!”