Before the pandemic, we were all like Adam and Eve, leading carefree lives in the Garden of Eden. The COVID-19 pandemic made us realize that before, we were naked, completely exposed to the deadly creations of nature. Just like how Adam and Eve changed after eating the forbidden fruit, we have been rewired after experiencing the pandemic.

As of June 28, 2022, The New York Times reports that more than 68% of the world population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Since many of us have joined the frenzy to restore our idealistic, former lives, it is becoming more important to ask: Should we push the pandemic out of our minds entirely?

Rather than erasing 2020 and 2021 from our calendars, we would benefit from adopting aspects of pandemic life and potentially incorporating them into the post-virus era.

When we first adapted to live under shelter-in-place orders, the constant buzz from cars zooming through the streets suddenly transformed into a symphony of chirping songbirds and soothing whispers of the wind, orchestrated into a harmonious performance by Mother Nature. Studies have shown that pausing human activities benefited the natural environment, whether it’s improved air and water quality, reduced noise pollution, or the revival of entire ecosystems.

As nature sprang back into a lively rhythm, my family ventured out into the dense, calming forests of Muir woods and integrated local explorations into our schedule. Together, we discovered the exhilaration of treading on previously unknown trails, thriving with insects and birds. As Clint Edwards reflected in the midst of the pandemic, this renewed strength in familial bonds was a common theme experienced by many families. The pandemic redirected our previously popular-attraction-fixed gaze towards local hidden treasures.

Not only did we rediscover nature, we also helped ourselves by subtracting daily traffic from our lives. After two years of coping with the virus, more than half of all employees work from home at least once a week and 18% have jobs that are fully remote. Why not continue this trend? The pandemic has shown us that working from home is a viable and efficient option for many professions. Instead of labeling virtual labor as outdated, we should do our part to reduce our carbon footprint by spending less time behind the wheel.

Stay-at-home orders applied the brakes to our constantly accelerating lives. As we now have the chance to return to our long-awaited in-person lifestyles, it is important to reflect on what the pandemic has taught us. We should take this opportunity to help nature recuperate while also modernizing the way we live. Like Adam and Eve, we have learned to clothe ourselves after the pandemic. Why undress and roam naked again?

Brian Chen is a 17-year-old rising high school senior in California who enjoys writing short stories, prose, and poetry. He serves as the editor-in-chief for the literature and media magazine of his high school. His works won several awards at the New York Times Writing Contest and Scholastic Art & Writing Contests.