After year of pandemic restrictions, signs of life look real good

I’ve gotta say, normalcy just feels good.
Looking through this edition of Lebanon Local, it’s clear that tinges of what life was like before the pandemic are beginning to appear on the horizon.
It’s a beautiful sight.
Kids getting a chance to actually go to school. Referees’ whistles blowing. People beginning to rub elbows once again – OK, that was a bad one. But it kind of fits.
After months of being jerked around by official edicts from Salem and Portland – “Yep, you’re playing; Hold on, nope, you’re not” – Lebanon finally has cleats on the field, shoes on the court.
And around town, people are lined up to go to movies and sit down in restaurants.
Tell me that doesn’t feel good.
Most of us probably would have difficulty thinking of another experience that has been more prolonged and, in many cases, more negative than this coronavirus pandemic. It’s not like it’s been uniformly painful – people who’ve undergone cancer treatments or major surgery could certainly tell us that. But it’s just dragged on and on, and we’ve had a lot of freedom of choice almost forcibly removed. And that has been wearing for many.
So now, for a variety of reasons, Linn County’s numbers are coming down and, as we’ve reported in this issue, vaccinations are rapidly becoming more available for those who want them.
I’d like to think that some of the precautions we’ve been taking are paying off in this dip in the case numbers, which has permitted the openings of some long-shuttered businesses and reduced restrictions on others.
It’s not my purpose here to weigh the veracity of the policies that we’ve lived with for a year now, but it appears that common sense is getting a foothold here and there.
I will only say clear understanding of data or application of common sense hasn’t always appeared to be behind a lot of what we’ve lived, despite what its purveyors tell us.
I’m personally thankful for the businesses that have, through creativity and, in some cases, help from a loyal community, hung in there through this thing. Along those same lines, let me hasten to add that I’m also grateful for faithful supporters who subscribe and who use this paper to get their advertising messages out and in so doing, continue local news coverage in Lebanon.
I’m also impressed with the ingenuity shown by people in various walks of life – restaurant owners, churches, athletic directors and coaches, teachers, who have found ways to make things work even when the odds are against them. You will find some instances of that in this issue of the paper.
So now we are looking to the future, which I’m (optimistically) expecting to continue on this path as more people get vaccinated and we perfect the strategies that have kept most of us healthier – physically, at least – than we have probably ever been in our lives. That’s been the case for me, anyway. I think I had a couple of throat tickles over the winter, but they never materialized into anything as I avoided close contact with strangers and generally washed my hands more than I habitually did in the past.
I think more than anything, though, the sense of having that cloud of whatever – government edict, public scrutiny, accusatory phobic neighbors, paranoid officials watching over their shoulders for lawyers, you name it – is slowly dissipating and if we can keep this going, it will continue to disappear.
I guess the real common sense in all of this is that we’re not out of the woods yet, but whatever we’ve been doing has apparently worked.
The best advice for any of us would therefore be: Keep it up.
As an old coach I used to know would say, “Don’t get sloppy.”