Post-Pandemic Myopia

If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, it is how much I missed in-person human interaction. I mean, Zoom was a thing we used to stay connected throughout it all and Zoom is quite amazing. If this would have happened 20 years ago, for example, we wouldn’t have had the gift of Zoom. We would have needed to shelter in place, we wouldn’t have been able to see our loved ones outside our immediate family for years. But with Zoom and other similar tools, we’ve been able to work from home, have family meetings, funerals, birthday parties, attend classes, all while keeping each other safe and connected. Which is absolutely amazing, if you think about it. But even with all that, it felt strange. Conversations have a different energy about them when you’re talking through a headset and looking at a pixelated image with internet stoppage and dropped calls. I noticed during exercise zoom classes that the ringing of a bell or the music provided in a live class does not come through the broadband with even a fraction of range of the full sound spectrum. Even the voice of the instructor is limited in tone and quality.  

Now, the world is opening up again–for better or for worse. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed the face-to-face conversations, the sporting events, the concerts and plays, and shows. I’ve gone into our office at work recently. Very few team members show up at the office anymore.  I’m there mostly by myself or with one other person. That comradery, the banter, the laughter, the elevated tones of disagreement, the potlucks, the birthday cake, the sharing of ideas and brainstorming sessions, all gone; replaced by empty standing desks and echoey corridors.

It’s brought this new appreciation for things that I’d never realized before. Live in-person music performances. I mean, I’ve always loved concerts, but to be awash in the energy of the band emanating from the stage, the response of the crowd. The mutual love shared between the performers and the audience. The vibrations flooding through your ears and soul, rhythm pulsating in your chest. Hugging and high-fiving your friends and dancing with strangers. It is different now, and the performers feel it too. They talk about it during the shows!  Band: “We have missed you SO MUCH!!” Crowd: “WOOOOOOOO!!” Being with extended family and friends to share a holiday meal. The roar of the fans when your team scores in a sporting event.  Participating in a yoga class with other people in your space. Feeding off that energy, the chakra, the breath. To have all that taken away for a couple of years, and now what it feels like to participate in being back to normal…it is breathtaking.  

Appreciating this is meaningful and I am so grateful to understand that it is a gift. Being around friends and family again or even being with strangers of mutual interest at events, are all incredible experiences to participate in and when you get that chance again after it has been cut off for an extended period of time, it is mind-blowing how joyful it really is. Coming out of our borrowed holes of confinement is probably not dissimilar to the feeling of being released from prison. Albeit a different type of prison. Not the kind where you were locked up because you committed a crime. Rather, living that rhythm of life in that our freedom was a bit taken for granted; I do not recall noticing it before the pandemic. So here I sit and reflect: grateful, joyous, and happy. I understand how important it is to live life fully and appreciate the time we have. Surviving a pandemic, you realize that mortality is a thing, and we all have an expiration date.  

When you’re looking at an Adobe document, “zoom in” means to magnify. Out there in the real world, when you “zoom in” (or when you are using Zoom, ha), it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. It’s like having near-sightedness or myopia. You need to get your vision corrected so you can appreciate the full blended mosaic at a distance, back up to see the big picture. Maybe even turn Zoom off and show up in person from time to time. Now, I’m clear: affect change where I can, pick and choose the battles that are most important. Learn more to improve and make a difference. Soak it in and enjoy life and those I’m blessed to have in it.  

I also hope we can learn to function better as a society. Rely on Zoom as a necessity less often, turn off the screens, cut back on social media, and find ourselves and our humanity again together in the same room.

By Dawn Day

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