BEING PEOPLE BORN of a revolution, Americans have always considered themselves a resilient lot. In the Northwest, that bravado is backed by an additional imagined layer of frontier pluck.

Don’t look now, but all of that imagined fortitude is about to get a ruling from the judges.

Cover story: Ron Judd’s HELP!!-ful guide to navigating our ‘new normal’

Nobody needs to be reminded that last spring, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic turned life upside-down for just about everybody. The resulting angst lingers, affecting nearly everyone differently, but still profoundly.

The Northwest, in ways both bad and good, has been a leading indicator of those impacts. The region that saw the first cases also mustered the first, and to date, one of the more robust, public responses to the virus. And some of our most-prominent employers also have led the way in staying afloat through the pandemic’s substantial wake.

Nothing illustrates this more than the decision, led notably by Redmond tech giant Microsoft, to concede that many of the tens of thousands of workers hastily ordered to Work From Home in the spring probably will continue to do so at least some of the time, pandemic or no.


History almost certainly will record this as a lightning bolt to lifestyles. Not since World War II, arguably, have we faced something as apt to shake to the core what we considered a societal “normal.” And given our very human preprogramming to chafe at large-scale change, that’s the sort of stress a couple generations of us simply aren’t used to. Widespread angst — and even some hilarity — is guaranteed.

Nothing about the pandemic itself, of course, is amusing. The sickness it causes has been devastating, and revelatory in its exposure of gaping holes in our sense of community, our confidence in our broader health care system and the fragility of many things we’ve long taken for granted.

But we hope there is some room for personal and communal introspection — perhaps even some levity — when it comes to our very human, occasionally embarrassing struggles to adapt to the resulting “new normal” way of life we’re stuck with for the present.

The pain is real, but perhaps less so when compared with tribulations endured by our forebears, many of whom gained character from adversity in ways we now find difficult to imagine.

It is in that spirit of pluck, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, that we offer up this week’s user manual, of sorts, to the Great Boxing-In — the work-from-home realities many of us likely will face for months or even years.

Here’s hoping this mutual commiseration serves as at least a brief diversion from all the rest of it — and a testament to ways we’re all now connected, even while largely kept apart. Like it or not, we’re in this together. Hunker down, mask up and hold fast. A brighter tomorrow awaits.