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By Tia Smith

So here we are, 16 or so months after the pandemic shut down the world. 16 or so months since we all had to learn to remote work, to adjust our work or, in some cases…, not work. 16 or so months since we learned to view a handshake or a hug as something defined by the potential for germ transfer and tiered by emotional need. (I need to hug my kids, I do not, however, need to hug Aunt Olivia who I have met once. I think.) 16 or so months since we had to learn how to convey a smile from behind a mask without wiggling our eyebrows like Groucho Marx. 16 or so months since, well, since we felt normal. As a person, as a people, as an island, as a world. Just normal. 

With any systemic change, it is multifold. I am not the same person I was 16 months ago because my environment is not the same as it was 16 months ago. But then, isn’t that always the case? Before Covid (or as I like to call it, “the other BC”), the person I was ten years ago wasn’t even the same person I was 5 years ago. 

Change is inevitable and always good in one sense or another.” – a quote from the great prophet MICHAEL JACKSON 

Mikey was right, in a way, change is indeed inevitable. Is it always good? Again, in a way, sometimes it can be good. Always is too strong a word to be used but many times it is a good thing, it just doesn’t seem good at the time. Again, to quote another great philosopher, ol’ Bill Shakes, “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt in your philosophy.” Sometimes, just because we don’t see the path just yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. So here are two things I have learned about myself, about my world and about my people that I’m glad to have learned in the last 16 months: 

1. Sometimes keeping emotionally connected is actually more easily done wirelessly. I have family overseas and for the most part, while we did talk often, we only really SAW each other when they came here or we went there. Same for family on island. Life can be so busy and chatting with people in passing was often my only way of connecting. Now, thanks to Zoom, House Party and the like, we spend every weekend with our family and friends overseas and here doing quizzes, cocktail hours or even murder mystery events. We are watching our families grow up in real time and I don’t have to actually do the obligatory, “oh, how much you are grown” spiel every year or so. I can be that annoying to my nieces and nephews every week! 

2. That the lack of something really can make you appreciate it. When I get a chance to see a smile nowadays, it hits that much harder. A kind word tolls much louder. A helping (but sanitized) hand reaches much further. For all our progress, when we HAD to take the world outside offline and move to a world online, through our devices, it emphasized and strengthened our appreciation for true connection. It laid bare how much more kind we really need to be by laying bare really how kind we weren’t. To ourselves and to each other. A smile means all that much more now because it is truly meant. And tears or anger mean more now because it’s not hidden. 

Because of these and many other lessons, Bermuda, the world and I am not the same as we were 16 or so months ago. Will the world go back to how it was before when we truly are post the pandemic? Doubt it, but do we really want to? (I mean, besides Disney World… I’d like that back to normal at least). 

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