Life Advice



Barton Goldsmith: Things have changed — and this is just the beginning

Barton Goldsmith, Tribune News Service on

Published in Dating Advice

People use the TV-inspired phrase "the new normal" like we will all just naturally adapt to whatever changes are coming, like changing the channel. I don't like being the negative one (ever), but I don't think people shift that easily. Here are some things that could hold some of us back from reengaging in the world. And I'm totally willing to be wrong.

If you are older or immune-compromised, you are probably frightened to go out. It's not agoraphobia -- it's common sense. I just turned 67 (hard to believe, I know, but it's my emotional immaturity that keeps me young at heart). And you couldn't pay me to fly or cruise first class anywhere. Sorry but no germ tubes for me or ships, or hotels, or sadly even eating out. These are things that are just too scary right now, and that takes all the fun out of it.

What the heck are Ed Sheeran and all the other performers going to do? The same thing many of us are doing. I'm sure he is doing his best and getting creative. The Zoom concerts are getting better. Also, drive-in movie theaters, although few and far between, will be making a comeback for concerts as well as films and plays. They are already set up for the most part, and people naturally social distance, so it might work.

On a more positive note, RVs and camping are returning too. The thing that worries me is there may be so many of them that "glamping" will be like going to Disneyland, with hour-long waits to enter and very little space. But still, it's a good alternative for those who enjoy that lifestyle. A word of caution here: In many places, public showers and restrooms are available for campers, and I would no sooner go into one of those than a COVID ward. Just saying.

Delivery continues to be really a good idea, especially for meds, because there are sick people at the pharmacy. We do it for most things, and curbside pickup is also very helpful in maintaining space. We go to the market in PPE and only use the ATM at the bank, if possible, and wear gloves for getting gas (although the last time was like a month ago).

Reentry will be faster for some than for others, but most everyone who cares or is concerned about the second wave will be moving slower than those who do not. That extra bit of caution could save your life or the life of someone you love. People who don't want to go out should not be chastised, and those who do need to respect that there are other people in the world too, so just keep your distance.


We are still learning so much about this plague that to err on the side of caution just makes sense to me. But sometimes common sense just isn't all that common. Stay well.


(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of "The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time." Follow his daily insights on Twitter at @BartonGoldsmith, or email him at

(c)2020 Barton Goldsmith

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