This is part of a multi-part series that I dictated to my phone during my daily 4-mile walks undertaken to Stay Sane. I though I’d lost the files but they were just misplaced, so I’m bring them to Blog one by one.

July 11th was not 7-11 day. Normally that day the convenience store gives out free slushees. Sugar and shaved ice. Dead simple. Nothing more normal than that.

Except this year it didn’t happen. Because COVID. And it got me thinking that we were in denial, but there’s so many nails in the coffin of ‘normalcy’ that the denial had to end sometime.

For three months we frequently acted as if this was like an extended storm. We hoarded all the things we hoard when a blizzard is coming. Some shut themselves in. Some railed against COVID just the same as they would defy a hurricane. People died, and lost their livelihoods, and the devastation was far and wide but we still measured it against ‘what we know’.

On the whole we weren’t denying the virus (although some do) — we denied how lasting an effect it would have. We believed we’d just hunker down for 3 months, come out for 3 months, maybe have to do it again in the fall. Each time we’d just switch on and off and back on.

COVID instead just settled in for the long haul and gave no quarter. There was never going to be any ‘going back’.

Just recently, though, it appears enough time has passed that denial is beginning to dissolve. Somehow, we’ve reached the brain’s natural tolerance for aberration. The lack of a slushee might have been the cherry on top.

It’s been four months — maybe the duration of our denial is the length of a season. We can relate to disasters for only that long. Droughts and floods may ruin a whole year on the farm. But I think even more applicable to our modern lives is dashed playoff hopes. It’s not like a lost planting season but a sporting season.

And it’s true, the major sports are playing, but these abbreviated, oft-paused affairs that don’t feel right and don’t hit our sensibilities the same way. Instead of hunkered and denying, we’re wide-eyed and nervous now. There’s clearly no single way forward. What about work? What about school? It’s frustrating and confusing and depressing.

Something else happened July 11th, it was first (and still one of the only) times the President donned a mask. While a thousand other theories and guesses can be made, I’d still like to think we reached a tipping point, where even the most staunch force needs to, even if momentarily, capitulate to reality.

It’s scary, but I’ll tell you something else: It’s also one of the larger opportunities ever to come along.