Pandemic Reflections | Life Lessons

Happy Birthday, New Normal

Reflections on a year of pandemic living, virtual celebrations, and looking forward to our new futures

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Today’s Facebook memories brings bittersweet feelings and striking realities of the last year.

A year ago today, my family gathered to celebrate our March birthdays. It was the beginning of surreal week as Ontario transitioned into its first stay at home order. A week started with a laughter and cake and ended with Cattening The Curve jokes while staring at empty grocery store shelves.

Via @Dr Annie Marie Darling on Twitter | https://twitter.com/amdar1ing/status/1237880129575157760?s=21

Forget the toilet paper, where’s the canned soup?

A year later, we celebrate those March birthdays, just like all the other birthdays throughout the year: virtually through Facetime. We do our best to connect at an impossible time to keep everyone safe. We have come this far, and vaccinations in everyone in Ontario are truly just around the corner.

The celebration of birthdays always brings an act of reflection. At this pandemic year mark, I have been doing a lot of reflecting on previous practices and my future life; once the vaccines are in arms, the curve is truly flattened, and we collectively create a future for our post-pandemic world.

When reflecting over the past year, I can often place the thoughts into two categories:

  • what’s been gained through it all
  • the image of a remarkable comeback in a vivid future

For myself, I have gained many skills over the past year. My digital creation skills using the Adobe Suite and Final Draft didn’t exist this time last year. Nor did my love for colourful eyeshadow or mindfulness for practicing safe vocal health so I don’t blow out my voice teaching in PPE.

I have also gained a new sense of my family and friends’ importance, brought out by the numerous digital hangouts and celebration of life’s most significant and smallest moments. And, if it weren’t for the pandemic, I would not have had this time to connect with my family and friends. A great re-set of priorities.

Our experience with the pandemic has been compared to a marathon on multiple occasions. We might not know when that finish line will appear, but we know that eventually, it will, and we will move cross that line. The Wall Street Journal published a piece at New Years entitled, “In 2021, All the World’s A Stage”. This opinion essay encouraged its readers to keep the dreams, the picture of “when the pandemic is over” firmly in their heads and hearts.

I had many visions of 2020 that included trips to Greece and Vietnam, celebrating my 40th birthday with an epic party, continuing to push the envelope of theatrical production and inventing new ways to use theatrical techniques to help students find/showcase/raise their voices.

The party and the trips are still in the wings, and I will appreciate every moment when the opportunity presents itself. The jury’s out on the theatrical production and techniques. As a half online/half in-person teacher and artist, I feel like I’m engaging in hybrid digital performance art. Within this art form, I have learned a lot about performance, resilience and patience. I truly believe that live, theatrical performances will be stronger once the theatres re-open because performing for Zoom has created a new self-reflection tool kit.

In our post-pandemic new world, what will your comeback be? This last year has taught us that, as a collective society, we cannot return to our previous world. How will you use what you went through in the world to make it a better place for yourself and the ones you love?

Until that day comes, keep visualizing and keep moving towards the future. Hold onto the memories and the moments to keep moving towards the finish line. The work will be worth it, I promise you.

Please also keep taking and posting pictures of your cakes and moments. 2020 and 2021 conversations featured topics around what we used to do. Future 2021 and 2022 conversations can celebrate how far we have come as a society.

Educator. Theatre Artist. Creative Strategist. Nourishing creativity and critical thinking through action based leadership. www.cathyclarketheatre.com

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