Coronavirus Reverend's Notes

Get Ready for 2021

Part 1 – Get Ready

A Back Forty Elopement with Reverend Jim Beidle

It seems redundant to say that 2020 brought a lot of opportunities and threats. I mean, everyone who has lived through the past year knows about the changes a modern response to the global pandemic has wrought. Globally, societally, and individually we have each learned how to manage our lives differently. Here’s the first of three posts discussing the changes coming to Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle in 2021. Part 1 is the ‘Get Ready’ of ‘Ready, Set, Go!’

Gathering Perspective

Adapting to this new lifestyle has been no different for Weddings with Reverend Jim Beidle. Learning to serve my couples during the past year has changed the substance of my business. Coming up with ways to provide services virtually. Providing comfort and support to the couples living with upended plans. Venturing into new methods and markets for elopements and micro-weddings has fueled my personal and professional growth.

Santa Prepares Paperwork
Santa readies the marriage certificate for Brandon and Mia.

Many of you know that I put my time and talent to use portraying Santa Claus during November and December, a traditionally slow wedding season. Again, all the early predictions for how the season would progress painted a dismal picture. Indeed, news reports from the season, like this one, demonstrate why intimate, knee-top visits with St. Nicholas are a terrible idea. The retail visit, a holiday standard since the Baby Boom, ended up with many elders, adults, children ill, in the hospital, or dying. It called for a new approach.

virtual visit.
Santa Jim Peers over his glasses during a virtual visit.

For the 2020 holiday season, I provided hundreds of virtual visits with Santa Claus. Varying in length from a few minutes to a half-hour provided a new experience for children and their families. And parents took advantage of the ability to have Santa coach and encourage children. Coupled with performing shows online and providing personalized pre-recorded videos, it gave me a new and refreshing way to engage with people. And that got me thinking about next year.

Pondering the Season

I could easily go on about how wonderful the changed wedding season was for me. In fact, I did a bit of that in this previous post. I also would love to spend time telling stories about the lives Santa touched during the holiday season. For more about that, here’s an interview I did with Nicole Brodeur of the Seattle Times. It’s often easy for me to get lost in the stories, as I sometimes do.

But this post is about the future! By now, watching the news and listening to scientists, we know that our lives have really changed. Looking at previous pandemics, we know that we will get through. And when we eventually get to the other side, how will society have changed? More importantly, how will we have changed? How do we prepare ourselves for the new reality?

Rational Thinking

Two people planning.
This is the sort of organized chaos I make when I strategize.

Here are some of my take-aways as I plan for the next two or three years. Pandemic restrictions are going to be with us for a while. Here’s my reasoning.

  • Our divided national response to the pandemic hasn’t worked. Until we unite behind a rational response to preventing the spread of Coronavirus and its variants, that won’t change.
  • Despite conflicting reports, scientists have been clear from the beginning that they are still learning about how Coronavirus works. The scientific method works, but it is slow and full of blind alleys that each want exploring. Even with the vaccines, we still don’t have all the answers.
  • Even with an accelerated rollout of the new vaccines, we won’t reach a viable amount of immunity before Autumn. Assuming everyone took the vaccine at the right times and in the right doses, that leaves the problems of making and delivering over 600,000,000 doses. I haven’t seen anything that points to production levels that high. And there are still those who won’t or can’t take the vaccine.

Those bullets are rationales; reasons why I expect the restrictions will continue to be necessary. We also must address emotional and egoistic challenges.

How Emotions Play into ‘Get Ready’

And that isn’t a call to judgment. Instead, I baldly recognize how our conscious minds appropriate any internal bias we carry to justify behavior rooted in anxiety.

Mature doctor tired after long day.
Mature doctor tired after long day. We’re all feeling the strain these days, aren’t we?
  • It’s a natural state for humans to have anxiety about change. It’s normal for us to resist change in our environment at a primary and unconscious level. That behavior mostly kept us alive when we lived in forests and on the plains.
  • Our conscious minds don’t always know what to do with that unconscious concern. Sometimes it’s a complete melt-down, ugly crying, rage spew. Especially if that person has been “holding it together” until that one last thing, and we may not even know why we’re falling apart.
  • We’ve seen other ways this natural anxiety takes over the conscious mind in public. People are irrationally refusing to take precautions to protect themselves and others. Despite clear contrary evidence, leaders and influencers have called the restrictions an “attack on liberty,” a hoax, and even some kind of conspiracy. Individuals have gone from shouting matches to pitched battles over the need for more rigorous hygiene in our public places.

The forgoing bullets sound assertive and potentially depressing, don’t they? With these points. I am attempting to affirm how we rationalize the internal conflict and anxiety we naturally feel about an individually uncontrollable situation. The discomfort I feel with those statements or that you feel when reading them reflects how little we control this slow-moving natural disaster.

Changing Our Minds

What do we control, then? We remain in control of how we respond. Choose kindness, educate ourselves, and reach out to others in our ‘bubble’ and our sphere.

We can choose to let go of the thoughts and feelings that urge us to withdraw into an apocalyptic defensive posture. Remember that our country has been through pandemics before and survived. And even thrived in the years following recovery. Make time to notice the beauty surrounding us and get joy from the good that we see others do.

Choose to stay connected with each other and our community in ways that didn’t exist during the Flu Pandemic 100 years ago. We can move away from technology that walls us off from others to using technology to stay in touch. More than just for work, applications like Zoom, Meet, and Facetime make it easy to reach out to friends, neighbors, and loved ones.

How to Get Ready

This short essay could easily turn into a 50,000-word book if I let it. And that might be a project if a couple of dozen people are interested. Instead, I’ve tried to show some of the factors that are part of planning for 2021.

But let’s turn back to pondering the 2021 wedding season, shall we? Before turning to Part 2, tell me in the comments about how you are doing. How are you coping with a New Year that looks a lot like the old year? What are your plans? Or, go here and start a conversation with me.

In Part 2, I’ll share my vision for things to come. We’ll look at what I see as a natural progression for the business of being human in 2021. Part 2 is all about the work that takes us from ‘Get Ready’ to ‘Get Set!’

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