Remember the days when you and your friends would run outside and play games together? There was a sense of freedom and instant connection. No phones, obligations, or time constraints; just laughter, imagination, and lightness.
Those memories of playing with my siblings and neighborhood friends fill me with joy and a sense of wonder. I long for those carefree times. But my heart breaks at the thought that my brothers, who I see so clearly in my mind playing and laughing and making mischief, are no longer alive.
What happened to those days of innocence, when we were all together and nothing mattered except having fun? Nothing feels better than being with each other, loving all that life has to offer.
This contagious euphoria of group interaction and shared experience that we have all felt has a name. “Collective effervescence,” is a phrase coined a century ago by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim. It’s that giddy feeling where your sense of self dissipates and instead, you feel a deep, unyielding connection with your fellow humans.
According to psychologist Shira Gabriel, effervescent experiences (such as concerts and sporting events) fill the human need for belonging in a way that most social psychology research — so long preoccupied with couples, families, and small groups — has tended to overlook. It illustrates how customs as ancient as pilgrimages and feast days, and modern as protests and concerts, help people to lead happier, connected, and more personally meaningful lives.
It also reminds us why in this past year so many of us have experienced a dullness as if we’ve been living in a soft drink without the bubbles from the carbonation.
Some of us may be eager to get back to that bubbly, energetic connectedness while others of us may still feel wary or cautious.
One of the games we used to play en masse was Hide and Seek. After covering one’s eyes for a count to ten, the seeker would shout, “ready or not, here I come” and begin looking for all of us who were hiding.
In a way, this moment in the pandemic is starting to feel like that.. Ready or not, here we come..
Out into the open, removing masks, attending sporting events, graduations, dinner parties…
Are you ready? Or not?
There are many conversations taking place on this topic of readiness, of what it will be like as we re-emerge.
Priya Parker, the author of The Art of Gathering, offers her thoughts:
It’s not like we’re going to race back and then everything’s going to be solved, it’s like we are actually in this extraordinary moment that resulted from a lot of pain and devastation, in which at some level, the decks have been cleared.” She discusses the possibility of recreating the ways we gather and examining how the past ways of gathering may not always have worked and how, in this moment, we can create our future gatherings newly. We have this opportunity to pause and ask ourselves How do we want to gather? What events are we dying to get back to want to go back to and which ones are we hoping never come back?
Parker continues: “During the pandemic, we have invented new ways of coming together... and learned in this pandemic that we actually want to bring (some of the old with us), that we want to move forward, and then finally, what do we want to reinvent or invent anew? In this moment where this does not happen very often, we can decide how we want to be together and what we want that to look like.”
So maybe we are ready for some things, not for others and that’s ok as well.
It’s not easy to jump back into the wild ride of life we were on pre-pandemic. We have learned a lot of important lessons. Take your time. Pick the events you choose to attend wisely. Be with those people who lift you up rather than bring you down. Appreciate having the choice and continue to look inside of yourself to determine what feels right and what doesn’t.