I was bunkering down. It seemed like the only thing to do. And a year later, I am venturing out a little more, masked and sanitised. It feels normal in some ways and in others, it is still surreal. There is a seriousness about life that permeates every decision. Even meeting a friend for coffee is more measured, thought through, considered. Don’t get me wrong. I love every minute of it. And in fact the very act is meaningful on a much deeper level these days.
I want to be connected to the world out there. The relationships I have are incredibly important to me. I feel closer than ever and at the same time, I know that it is vital to keep us all safe. This strangest of times binds us together in unexpected ways.
These days, I am not in the super fragile category. A year ago, I most certainly was. And yet it is essential for me to keep protecting myself and everyone around me. If there is a lesson in this, it is that everything we do affects everyone else. Our lives will never be the same. Sadness is so much a part of the present, that it permeates the very air we breathe. At the same time, I feel more love and compassion around me than ever before. And there is happiness in the simple things, if we remember to notice them.
I’ve learnt a few new skills during this pandemic. One of them is that meeting on Zoom can be (almost) as intimate as meeting in the flesh. Lessons online work surprisingly well too. The same rules apply really. If you keep your students interested and engaged, they will respond in kind. Eye contact keeps the focus, just as it does in the classroom. I no longer panic if we need to change platforms and swopping between them has become part of my toolset. (I never thought I’d be able to say that.)
Every single moment of life is worth embracing, even if it is with our elbows. The languages of love have expanded to include new ways of interacting. Because we are more restricted, we make more effort to show people how we are feeling. Deeper waters bring more depth. That has to be a plus, right?
And wearing masks really does highlight smiling eyes!