I rode my bike in northeastern Iowa and southern Minnesota this past weekend. My back tire busted on my bike (it was a spoke/tire … I have no clue) and so I went to the bike shop. “We can’t help you” (ugh) “no wheels like that in stock. But if you want to rent a bike we can do that. And if you want to try an electric bike, we can totally do that”. Well, I’ve been seeing the e-bikes out and about for the past couple of years and thought “awesome!” … I can try and see. I rented a new e-bike for the day and rode the Root River in Minnesota with friends. We rode for 3 hours and I got credit on my Fitbit for 22 minutes because it was that easy. I didn’t sweat and I don’t think my heartbeat ever rose above 60 beats per minute. So bottom line, very nice and fun but not a workout. Good to know.
We stayed in Decorah and the community was completely embracing mandatory masking. It felt a lot different than what I see around here. I don’t think I saw anyone out and about not wearing a mask. We went to a couple of restaurants and breweries and sat outside and enjoyed some great rides. The first night we were sitting around a fire outside in back of the hotel and some gal (turned out to be a corporate lawyer in Chicago but looked like a hippie) sat down and joined us. She talked to us like she was an old friend and it was awesome. How often do we avail ourselves to others and take the chance to meet someone new? I know I don’t do it enough.
The new normal is upon us. How do we create “the now” and “the future” to be as fulfilling and engaging as the past but with the twist of safety? Perhaps our embraces are through creating socially distanced, masked up relationships, where in the past we were reluctant to reach out and be friendly for whatever reason. I think of the kiss photo from the end of WW2. The sailor was kissing a stranger (dental hygienist, fyi) to celebrate the end of the war. Maybe this is our future - not necessarily kissing - but uninhibited communications because we are just so glad to have contact of any kind. Being nice and striking up conversations and friendships and exchanging pleasantries … if this potentially can be our new normal, then sign me up.