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July 3, 2021

Prairie Dogging

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

“Check out rooms 15 and 24, they are prairie dogging.”

One of my favorite ER doctors of all time coined this term.

I took one look at rooms 15 and 24 and I couldn’t help but laugh. Every 20-30 seconds, a curious head would pop from behind the door as a concerned family member was checking to see if the doctor or nurse was coming back with an update.  Ideally, they were looking for a message that “all is clear,  it’s safe to go back home.”

I think we all do this.

I am positive I do.

Especially during covid. Especially in the beginning, I would create my bubble of safety and cleanliness and every once in a while I gathered the courage to pop my head out. Sometimes I would make it all the way to the grocery store.

Gradually it felt more normal and slowly it felt safe.

Last week, I went to my first “large” gathering in over a year. It was outside. It felt a little uncomfortable at first. Do we hug?  Can we just “act normal?” Can we stand closer than six feet from each other?

How do we do this?

Over the past year “isolation” became the normal, it was encouraged and mandated.

The thing is . . . isolation is not “normal”. Connection and community is. We are hard-wired to connect. Babies will actually die if they are not held. We will wither if we are not connected.

The whole world has experienced a collective trauma because most of us had to retreat and be isolated for a time.

Many are still shell shocked and everyone can relate.

It’s totally normal to feel unsure, to feel like a newborn deer finding its legs and balance.

It’s okay that we might look and feel a little silly as we poke our heads out and survey the world around us.

I for one vote that we embrace this exploration as we start to reconnect with our communities on a physical level.

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Ann Barnet M.D.  |  Contribution: 9,230