I am not sure how to describe the emotional feeling of coming out of one of the toughest winters we’ve ever experienced.
When the third wave of the coronavirus brought on new restrictions last November I knew this would be some sort of “winter of despair” as we waited for the vaccines to be produced and distributed. I managed to maintain some level of sanity by skiing and going all in on a new initiative.
Yet, hearing an Avicii song on Spotify a week ago made me emotional in a way I find hard to describe. The lyrics reminded me of the beauty life has the potential to be if only we were to stop wasting time on that which is meaningless, without soul, and all those unnecessary sources of distraction and stress.
Once upon a younger year
When all our shadows disappeared
The animals inside came out to play
Went face to face with all our fears
Learned our lessons through the tears
Made memories we knew would never fade
Almost instantly, likely due to the combination of the music and warmer weather, a different setting entered my mind. It was not of a real place, but of a place that is not completely out of the realm of possibilities.
It was a place with beautiful sandy beaches, DJs and dancing, where people were truly present. People laughed. They cried. They interacted with each other. It wasn’t without conflict, but it was without all of the conflicts that many of us have been so preoccupied by over the past several years.
Maybe this sudden burst of imagination is just the result of what people this year are referring to as “Zoom Fatigue“, or simply too much time spent alone, indoors in front of a screen. Maybe it’s just me idiotically longing for a younger year where I can make memories that will last a lifetime. Or maybe it is secretly what we are all longing for after a year of restrictions, fear and isolation.
As the weather continues to warm up and many of the activities we have been denied for a little over a year now return, what I want from this summer is close to the exact opposite of what most of the past year was.
I want to get out from behind a computer (or phone) screen and connect with the world.
I want to explore places, beautiful places, either with the windows down or on a bicycle, where I can smell the trees and feel the air flow.
I want to gather with people, both familiar and unfamiliar, listen, laugh, talk, be heard, smile, try new things and make memories.
I want to feel truly alive and witness others feeling truly alive.
I want to dance, not as if nobody is watching me, but like it doesn’t matter who is watching me. After all, it doesn’t. All that matters is that the people dancing poorly are enjoying themselves more than the people laughing at them.
I want to throw away all that made us distrust one another, socially distance and hide our true selves, both from others and from ourselves.
I want to silence the voices telling me I need to change or hide parts of who I am.
I want to stop holding back.
I want the feeling of smiling at a stranger and SEEING THEM SMILE BACK.
And, this time, after the events of 2020 exasperated the problems of distrust, division, isolation, excessive screen time and victimhood mentality that were already present in our culture, I want to appreciate what is in front of me. I want to take this extended year of excessive restrictions as a lesson for us all to live in the here and now and stop focusing so much on the negative sides of things.
One thing I feel a lot of us, myself included, failed to appreciate before it was gone, is community. I imagine today that nearly all people have experienced life both with and without community. School naturally becomes a community and we have all lived through this pandemic.
When we did have community:
Could we have perhaps spent a little too much time focused on that one person in our social circle that we don’t particularly vibe with?
Did we possibly lament, too often, the times when we had to compromise on what we wanted to do because most other people in the group had different preferences?
Could too much thought have gone into that one conversation topic we were sick of hearing?
Were we too focused on what makes us different from those around us, and how our unique perspective needed to be appreciated more?
I know I feel I had made those mistakes. The past year has certainly reminded me, and hopefully others that it is better to have a community with the above frustrations than none at all. It feels like enough people feel that loneliness has become a major problem that some form of community will be built in the aftermath of this year of isolation.
Hopefully our favorite activities and freedoms come back soon. Hopefully, we also improve our communities.
When we do so, and start having the moments that make life truly worthwhile, the ones we will never forget, let’s truly immerse ourselves in those experiences.
Here’s to a better summer and a post-pandemic life with more of what makes life worthwile.