Applying what we’ve learned

Molly Halpern
2 min readMay 17, 2021

As I start to prepare my wings for my flight from the global South to the North… I hear from people in the US that things are almost “back to normal.”

That’s a good thing, for so many people.

It’s also something scares me.

That version of “normal” was one of the reasons I left.

The line too long. The person ahead too slow. The dishwasher left unemptied for too many hours. The phone or the couch or the ____ … too old.

First world problems, we say, and smile.

But it’s not a joke.

Life slowed down in Argentina, too. Even in rural Argentina.

Where life was already much slower.

It was in Madrid that I discovered the calm pleasure of holding a door for someone. Where I learned to relax while waiting on line. To enjoy standing still to allow someone else to pass on a narrow sidewalk.

This occurred only because I felt it done for me. I watched others do it. I received the warmth it generated, the sense of respect among humans. I wanted to join this club of humans.

In Argentina, too, being patient in public is what is expected. Of course, when driving, things are different. But in person, face to face… acting patient is the same as acting respectful.

Yes, it’s sometimes a challenge. For some people more than others. At some times and not at others.

But it is always valued and expected.

This kind of in-person interaction is one of the things I will miss most.

Realizing this makes me want to speak about some hopes.

My hopes for what happens in places where “normal” has nearly returned.

I hope people move more slowly. More human-ly, and less like machines. Even when that feels hard. Especially then.

I hope patience is something we try to practice and cultivate.

I hope we act more kind to one another. Even when we’re waiting to be attended in a shop. Especially then.

I hope the word “busy” stops being worn like badge of honor.

I hope we remember, in the words of George Santayana,

“That there is no cure for life and death save to enjoy the interval.”