It had been so long…
As we waited for the movie theater lights to dim, we were thrilled to share hugs and laughter with good friends. We were celebrating my husband’s birthday and excited to see a highly rated film. The movie began and the atmosphere was simple but sublime — the movie previews, the smell of popcorn, the person rattling candy wrappers. Prior to 2020, such gatherings were common place — but this was our first time back to the movies in 16 months.
I never want to take everyday joys for granted ever again!
I also don’t want to forget about the unexpected gifts gained from the pandemic.
Yes, the pandemic was filled with intense fear, unwanted change, and unbelievable tragedy — and the hardships were not evenly distributed. While all of that is true, the crisis also offered opportunities to look at what really matters with fresh eyes.
The unexpected pandemic blessings were different for each of us — whether it was time to slow down & relax, or to explore creative pursuits, or to clean out the garage — many of us had the opportunity to break with our usual routines, and ask ourselves, “What now?”.
As life (hopefully) continues to return to normal, I’m concerned that I might forget what I’ve learned and the blessings gained could fade away. I really, really, really don’t want that to happen! It’s been my experience that writing important things down and sharing them with others, makes them harder to forget. So here goes…
5 gifts I want to keep from the pandemic:
Valuing Simple Things I Took for Granted
As a Floridian, I’ve experienced the yearning for basic conveniences after hurricanes. Power outages can leave you without phone service, wi-fi, or air conditioning for days or weeks. When electricity finally lights up your house again, it’s a moment to rejoice. Something that was taken for granted is now a cherished treasure!
There are many such post-covid gems I’m still looking forward to — indoor concerts, live theater, conferences and networking events. Just like our recent trip to the movies, I want to remember to truly value these types of experiences long into the future.
Playing Games More Often
We enjoyed having game nights with a couple of friends in our covid bubble. We always ended up laughing so hard that our cheeks hurt. It was a much needed reprieve and it’s something that we plan to continue to make time for.
My husband and I also played many rounds of laughter filled Heads Up. It was a fun break from watching Netflix and it’s now a regular part of hanging out together at the end of a long day.
Since being outdoors was the safer option for being in the world, my husband and I sought out new adventures in nature. We rented a pontoon boat and explored a beautiful river — only saw one gator! We drove to a gorgeous trail that we’d never hiked before and saw huge flocks of white ibis. We finally hiked through the woods behind our house — something we had been meaning to do since we moved here 15 years ago! We also took daily walks in our neighborhood — enjoying each other’s company and conversation — savoring sights, sounds, smells, and feeling connected.
Appreciating Small Interactions
One day after having a lovely conversation with the grocery store clerk, I felt absolutely giddy. It made me realize just how starved I’d been for ordinary interactions. I so appreciated feeling uplifted from that human connection. I also felt so much gratitude for what she was risking, so that the rest of us could eat. Before the pandemic I most likely would have been focused on getting out of the store and on to the next thing. The value of everyday exchanges was never more obvious than when it had to happen through face masks and plexiglass.
Gratitude for Health
A couple of times during the pandemic my lower back went out and it was hurting so much that I had to go to a walk-in clinic for relief. Even as I experienced that intense pain, I still felt fortunate. The pandemic made me very aware that my situation was temporary and not life threatening. As I hobbled home after receiving a pain relief shot in my derriere, I was extra grateful for healthcare workers, modern medicine, and the people who kept that clinic running in the middle of everything.
It was (and is) heartbreaking and scary to listen to news reports about people struggling to breathe. It’s also an opportunity to remember that each breath is truly a blessing. So many people lost their lives, or lost family members, or are still in danger of losing both. It’s a potent reminder to appreciate the most precious gift of all — another day to enjoy being alive.
Where I live, it looks like life is almost back to normal. As the usual routines of life return, I still want to remind myself to appreciate simple, beautiful moments, like… being able to share smiles in public, or enjoy a meal indoors at a favorite restaurant, or gather with friends and family to celebrate the holidays. I also want to continue to make space for playful games, time in nature, and talking with the fellow human being ringing up my sale.
I want to keep reminding myself that every single day is a gift.
What gifts from the pandemic do you want to keep?
I invite you to write and share your answer below, to make it harder for you to forget!
Kim McIntyre is a Joyful Living Teacher and founder of JoyfulBeing.com. Over the last 20 years Kim has taught thousands of people how to crack themselves up and feel like happy dancing! She teaches people how to bring more laughter and joy into their lives right now, so they aren’t waiting for some perfect future to savor the sweetness of life. Open to your authentic experience of joy with her free play-sheet: Rediscover Your Joyful Self with these 10 Powerful Questions. You can connect with Kim on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in the Joyful Self-Care Facebook Group.
Image courtesy of Artem Beliaikin.