At the beginning of March 2020, the world came to a halt. We were told to socially isolate to protect ourselves from the Coronavirus. Suddenly all travel stopped, so did going out to concerts and sports events, restaurants, and even stores. We could no longer meet our friends in person, visit our family members, or go to graduations, weddings or funerals. We walked by each other on the sidewalk, cautiously with masks on, barely trusting each other. This odd new world jarred us.
At first, I thought it would be a good time for soul searching, for figuring out who I really am and what I really want to do with my life. I began to appreciate the quiet times, and the slowed pace. I meditated and took time to notice nature in a new way, I dove into projects I had wanted to tackle for ages . . . writing, reading, cleaning out my closet, playing music, losing weight, and exercising.
Ironically, though, after a short while, I, like so many others, realized that I missed people. I wanted to connect with my friends, my people. In fact, I realized more than ever that I could not live without them. I needed to see them and talk with them. Thank God, Zoom was there, when we needed it. I took to Zoom like a maniac. My extended family of 24 people set up a regular monthly Zoom call. I set up regular Zoom calls with my friends from high school, from college, from Graduate school, even from my old neighborhood where I grew up. I connected with people I hadn’t talked to in 30 years! I arranged a regular Zoom book group with my friends from Kenya, a cocktail hour with friends in my condo, and regular discussion groups with old friends from Washington and Taiwan. I ran Zoom leadership training calls with girls from Pakistan and France, and did over 18 speeches on Zoom about women’s leadership and suffrage. I sat in endless meetings and discussion groups on Zoom. I worked hard to get out the vote in November 2020 by using every form of social media. And, certainly not least, I worked to help make our virtual Sunday services at church interesting and alive, trying to connect the congregation on YouTube despite a completely empty church building.
In this time of isolation, I was so busy I actually “Zoomed out.”
I know I am not alone. So many people all over the world have connected in amazing and creative ways over the past year and through this pandemic. Many people held regular Zoom coffee hours, shared music and art on Zoom, held office meetings and school conferences. Families, that may not have gathered for ages, reached out to connect regularly on weekly Zooms. Grandmas Zoomed with their grandchildren daily, and businesses struggled to maintain team building efforts virtually, via fun gatherings, classes, and conferences all done online.
What did we learn? We learned that we humans need each other to be fully human, to explore ideas, to think, and to show our love and compassion for one another. We learned that being together, in whatever way we can, is so much better than being alone. We learned that giving and receiving support is fortifying, satisfying, and soul fulfilling.
Very soon, our world will open up and we will again be meeting each other in person . . . looking into each other’s eyes, seeing each other’s smiles, fist bumping, and -- gradually -- maybe even hugging each other. We will come together again in a renewed spirit, knowing that connecting makes us feel whole. What we found out, this crazy year, is that humans are social creatures who flourish in community with each other. Soon, as we finally are able to come together again, we will rejoice in that human communion that gives us life. We learned quite a lot this year! Happy connecting.
Joanne Grady Huskey is an author, speaker and coach. She is Co-Founder and Vice President of iLive2Lead Young Women's Leadership Summit, Co-Founder of Global Adjustments (India); and of the American International School of Chennai (India).