It is a well known fact that you will learn to appreciate something more when you miss it. Right now, due to the measures of social distancing because of the coronavirus, I miss the normal daily human contact. I miss it so much that I find myself often in tears, or so depressed I can’t bring myself to do anything at all.
I hardly dare to complain, because actually I am in the luxury position of having my three children and loving husband around, always available for a hug, and I am also still able to go outside for walking and running, which lifts my spirits considerably, but still, the lack of contact with my colleagues, friends, people in the streets, the simple gestures I’ve always taken for granted: the lack of all those things makes itself known to me in all my veins.
Yesterday, I went for a run outside. My virtual coach (a running app) was telling me to smile and appreciate the moment, take in my surroundings. So I obliged, and an elderly man, walking across the street (1.5m distance of course), winked at me, saying: “Nice weather, eh?”. I winked back and we both enjoyed the moment of contact. Three steps later I almost broke down in tears again, of course. How precious such moments become when there are so few of them!
Given that I miss it so much now, I figured I would seize this chance to explore the beauty of human contact in more detail. Like a photographer in a darkroom, exposing the negative to light in order to develop the positive image.
I have been wondering what it is, exactly, that I miss so much. What is it, that no emails, chats, phone calls, even video conversations, can provide? Why is it important to me to have other people in close proximity? It is not in-depth conversations that I miss, or to know and be known by good friends. All that hasn’t really changed so much. Surprisingly enough, it is the superficial contact that I miss most now. The ever-present background noise that tells me I am part of a living community.
Yes, that’s it. The community, the life that is created by all of us together, not by deep conversations, or conscious cooperation, but by being approximately in the same place. The buzzing of society has a life that reassures me.
Taking this just one little step further, I think I can now comfort myself by remembering that we are always surrounded by God. That we live in his life, and I can try and be open to signs of that. But also, I promise: I will nevermore complain that people are too superficial. I am learning to appreciate the great value of just being around.