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What I’ve Learned So Far

A few weeks ago, I took my first airplane trip since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

A few weeks ago, I took my first airplane trip since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Six months had passed since I had last seen my family in Ohio and helped care for my disabled brother. I needed to get back. While I was somewhat apprehensive, I was excited to be able to travel again. Wanderlust is part of my DNA, so this journey was one I anticipated with joy.

The usually busy airport was relatively empty, and the seats on the plane were also sparsely filled. However, we were informed that since middle seats were to remain unoccupied, every usable seat was taken. That was welcome news, indicating that people were flying again. In the airport, hand sanitizing supplies were abundant and everyone wore a mask. In the past I got sideways glances and puzzled looks when I wiped down my armrests and tray table—now everyone was doing it. Hooray! But along with all of the infection control-related changes, other differences were noticeable as well. And these changes are things I’ve noticed throughout this ordeal, even before entering the airport and boarding that plane. There was a sense of calm and serenity. No one was rushing about or hurriedly trying to be first in line. People were kind.


During the flight, I had several hours to reflect on these past 6 months. Our personal and professional lives have been turned upside down. We’ve had family and friends become ill and even lose their lives because of COVID-19. We’ve had work hours cut, lost our jobs, wondered about schooling our children, and juggled the all-important work/life balance in ways we never dreamed possible. Yet, through it all, we are learning some important lessons, and I firmly believe we will emerge from this challenge stronger than before. Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Slow down. We’ve heard the advice to “stop and smell the roses.” I now do that more often, literally. But along with enjoying that beautiful fragrance, I’m making time to appreciate the things I used to take for granted.
  • Value life. Tomorrow isn’t a guarantee for anyone. Make the most of every second.
  • Find joy. It’s difficult to remain positive during a pandemic. The onslaught of changes and challenges can be overwhelming and cause us to lose hope. Look for one small activity that lifts your spirits, including prayer.
  • Every worker is essential. When I hear the term “essential worker,” it seems pejorative. Some people have jobs that are more important than others? We need the person at the checkout counter at the grocery store, the farmer who grows our food, the truck driver who brings it to market, and so many more.
  • Cherish family and friends. They support, help, and guide us, always.

By the time we get to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m sure there will be many other life lessons learned. One thing’s for sure: I’m ready to embrace them.

Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. September 2020;18(8):6.

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