The last several years have robbed us of one of the most fundamental, beautiful and almost innate acts that we share as a community, that deepens the fabric of who we are together. Since March 2020, we have all lost so much, so, so much; loved ones, careers, homes, our independence, stability and so much more.
It is often, and understandably so, those big things that people focus on. Why wouldn’t they? The losses are life changing and absolutely no one can understand them unless they too have felt them. It is a challenging time, not just in Florida or America but in the entire world right now and one of those things that we ALL lost… one of those things that are simply too innumerable to even consider counting, is something I believe we have all taken for granted for too long.
I miss smiling at people.
Whether it was masks, simply staying home or knowing that just the wrinkly little squint in the corner of your eye won’t convey the warm feeling of community to the sweet elderly couple in front of you. Normally, I’d strike up a conversation with this adorable woman about marmalade or something (yes, I am one of THOSE) but noticing the gentleman’s green oxygen tank, I took care to keep my distance, knowing that meant he was immunocompromised, with my day job being everyone’s most hated healthcare professional (READ: dental hygienist) I knew I could be asymptomatically carrying anything and end this man’s life- over jelly. They completed their transaction and walked out. We stepped up and completed ours as well.
There was so much missing from those interactions, so much that could or would have been there 3 years ago. I don’t know if this is what’s driving my constant pareidolia lately, but nuts and bolts, leaves, tree bark, my coffee and salads are where I see smiles these days. The actual definition of pareidolia is, “the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern The scientific explanation for some people is pareidolia, or the human ability to see shapes or make pictures out of randomness.”
– (Miriam-Webster DOR:6152022.)
While teetering on the edge of being included in the DSMV-V versus the dictionary, it does make quite a bit of sense. As a society, for too long, we have been robbed of a beautiful aspect of our community because even when most of the masks came off, the smiles still weren’t there. I want them to come back like a smiling sunflower. But for now, I’ll take leaves in soil.