The real world beckons us from self-quarantine. Scientifically, new cases and hospitalizations are down — a data point which has enabled retail, outdoor dining and driving ranges to resume business this week. More holistically, Americans are being called to leave their homes and join in the rallying cry for systematic reform to cease state violence long targeted at black people.


Jenna Wortham deems the pandemic an “accelerant” in her striking New York Times analysis, “A ‘Glorious Poetic Rage.’ This time is different. Here’s Why.” Wortham notes, “For roughly three months before Mr. Floyd’s death, Americans were living in a state of hypervigilance and anxiety, coping with feelings of uncertainty, fear and vulnerability — things many black Americans experience on a regular basis.” Solitude and glaring reminders of the stark inequity across our country led many to examine crucial questions of racism, bias and privilege. Worcester’s Amplify Black Voices demonstration drew thousands of peaceful protestors. This show of solidarity marked the first crowded public outing in 10 weeks for me and many others. In so many ways, it felt like the start of a new chapter.


If you too are feeling ready to re-enter society (with a mask, of course) here are a few easy ways to jump in:


Visit the farm

Many business owners and organizers have reached out to me this week with operational updates and thoughts on how to safely re-enter their respective spaces. Creativity and flexibility are at a premium right now for everyone. Many nonprofits forced to cancel major events have pivoted to virtual alternatives. For instance, the Alzheimer’s Association introduced a free-of-charge meal kit in lieu of their annual fundraising dinner scheduled for April. There’s even a Facebook group where participants can post pictures of their heart-healthy meal photos and videos. If you feel comfortable, head to a local farm stand like Howe’s in Paxton with your shopping list and prepare a dish to highlight the Alzheimer’s Association’s Mediterranean diet.


Attend an outdoor exercise class

Exercise groups are making adjustments to move their workouts outside. CrossFit Prototype continues to offer online classes in addition to group fitness opportunities held in their parking lot. Owner Mike Collette explained, “We’re limiting classes to nine clients per one instructor with mats outside.” Everyone will have their own parking spot equipped with sanitizing materials and enough room to allow for proper social distancing measures. Colette is hopeful the weather will cooperate for 5:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. classes. “Comfort level is the priority here,” he said, adding, “All classes have filled up immediately, including the waitlist.”


Reacquaint yourself with the open road

Whether you are venturing back into the world for a large-scale rally or a small-scale return to the gym, keep in mind your car probably has not gotten a lot of use in the last few months. Mike Bundick, director of product marketing at Michelin North America, suggests you take care of your own light maintenance tasks before traveling more than a few miles for the first time. “Oil is the lifeblood of your vehicle,” Bundick said, “Now is not the time to get stuck on the side of the road or delayed.” If your car has been sitting for an extended period, check the battery and the air pressure before you hit the road. Is your spare tire inflated? Do you have a set of jumper cables? Bundick also urges drivers to check their tire treads with the “penny test” prior to a maiden voyage. “Take a penny and hold Abe's body between your thumb and forefinger,” he said, “Select a point on your tire where the tread appears the lowest and place Lincoln's head into one of the grooves. If any part of Abe Lincoln's head is covered by the tread, you're driving with the legal and safe amount of tread.” Any lower and your vehicle will have trouble gripping the road.


Be honest about your own comfort level and stay safe out there. Let’s make the post-pandemic world a better place.