COVID-19 overturned many of our ways and habits of doing and thinking, replacing them with new practices, protocols and polarizations. The PRT asked community members what they had learned over the past year, what surprised them, and how their lives and outlook has changed. 

Leslie Schupp 

“I wish I could say I’ve learned a lot from the last year of the pandemic, but no, I’m still the same person,” Leslie Schupp, of Patagonia, wrote. “I did not write a novel. I did not clean out my storeroom. I did validate myself for my habitual hoarding of toilet paper, paper towels, and books. Cutting your own hair is survival, and I finally have no one to blame for my haircut but myself. And dusting is not the way I want to spend the ‘one precious life’ I have left on this earth. 

“I’ve been waiting for this time of pandemic, of disaster, of drought and war and pestilence, all my life, trial and transience, of being Great Depression poor and hungry and Dust Bowl dusty, because we have not learned from history. I was thankful this year for my grandkids living with me; I was never bored. (Annoyed, yes.) I discovered that wine bottles mount up drastically when there is no recycling. I discovered that I have archaeological layers of clothing in my closet. We, the human family, cannot go on HAVING SO MUCH STUFF. Digging it, drinking it, eating it off the Earth. She can only take care of us if we take care of her.” 

Karen Rovang 

“My experience with COVID was a little different because it happened just shy of a year after my life partner passed away,” wrote Karen Rovang, of Sonoita. “I was already in the staying home and being a hermit mode and COVID just gave me validity to continue. I had become very satisfied with being alone until Christmas, when my brother and niece visited for a week. When they left, I realized how lonely I really was and needed to be around people. In January I had the opportunity to help out at the COVID vaccination center in Nogales. It was a saving grace. 

“Wearing a mask came easily for me. I didn’t want to get sick and certainly didn’t want to be the one to spread the disease. Now, taking it off is a little harder. I worry that I might get sick. I have been shocked how people are misled by the media and by rumors. I am dismayed at the number of politicians who promote falsehoods. I used to believe that America was ‘the great melting pot’ of people from all over the world. It now seems to be that we are much more tribal. This last year made that much clearer to me. I think many people are afraid to lose ‘white privilege’ as the racial make-up of our country changes. 

“My thinking has changed in the past year. I know that I cannot be a hermit forever; I do need to interact with people. I know that I need to volunteer to feel useful. I can accept that people are tribal and divided, that we are probably hardwired this way, but also hope that with recognition of this failing we can overcome some of the harm it does. I always have hope that the next generation will be better.” 

Linda Depew 

“The last fifteen months have been stressors on nearly all aspects of our lives; health certainly, but also financial, emotional, domestic, and even political,” Linda Depew, of Patagonia, wrote. “These stresses have created a magnifying glass through which to view our relationships in new ways. Using this magnifying glass, I see more clearly the people in my life who do care and can be trusted, as well as those who are hurtful and untrustworthy. This unexpected tool has given me fresh direction within a more secure circle of people that I can trust with my heart. And I smile.”

Brandon Doles 

“This has been a trying year,” Brandon Doles, of Patagonia, wrote. “When COVID first popped up, I thought it would not be that big of a deal, just another sickness. In the beginning a few people wore masks. I thought it was unnecessary but understood they were doing what they felt was right. Soon this way of thinking was pushed aside as people were getting sick and dying. Because of COVID restrictions, businesses were changing hours, temporarily closing doors and even going out of business. This was scary for my family because most of our revenue comes from a small business and we were worried about what would happen to our employees and main source of income. 

“Another way my family was affected was how schools changed seemingly overnight. The kids were at home all the time and watching a computer screen to learn. My kids are young, so it was difficult for them to learn in this environment. My youngest – preschool age – couldn’t do it and I felt she missed out on what should have been a wonderful introduction to school and relationships. When school eventually started classes, the kids had to wear masks, get their temperature taken every morning and bring a water bottle, but the kids didn’t seem to be bothered at all as they were just happy to be in school with their friends. 

“One thing I learned is that people, especially kids, are resilient and can adapt when it is needed. We all gained a lesson on how things can change in a moment, and to take each day with hope and appreciation. The kids showed us that as long as we are in it together, we can make the best of it, and to think about how we can be ready if something else like this happens in the future. My family is so happy with how things are getting easier, but we have learned not to let down our guard.”