The first case of COVID-19 showed up in Seattle, Washington on January 20, 2020, not far from where I live. It’s been just over three weeks, however, since COVID-19 really started to impact my own sense of normalcy. My spring corporate events were either cancelled or postponed and my husband stopped going to his office and started working from home. And everyday there is more bad news – new cases of people contracting coronavirus, government orders to stay in place and practice social distancing, and stories of local businesses struggling to keep the doors open.
We are living in an unprecedented situation where there is good reason to be fearful. But I want to shift perspective for a moment and shine light on how this may impact our society…for the better. You might have seen articles popping up that discuss the silver lining to the coronavirus. I know this might seem like a far stretch right now, but I actually believe there are several silver linings. To look at the situation from the glass half-full perspective, here are some upsides to our current situation:
- Slowing down (our lives have been way too busy!)
- More opportunities for simple things, like enjoying an afternoon walk outside, with other obligations falling to the wayside
- A collective decrease in f.o.m.o. (fear of missing out)
- Reduction in worldwide pollution (the earth is getting a chance to breath for a moment)
- Greater possibility for improvements to our healthcare system
- More attention brought to lack of affordable housing and hopefully some changes down the road
Another positive outcome, I believe, one that will become more clear when we are on the other side of this pandemic, is that weddings, gatherings, and celebrations that bring people together will become even more important to us than they were before.
While I am grateful that we can interact virtually with one another while we are confined to our homes, no amount of fancy technology, at least right now, can replace the full experience of gathering together in person. I compare remote gatherings vs. in-person gatherings to the basic flavors: sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami. Video conferencing allows us to see and hear each other, which, if you were eating a meal would be like tasting something that is both sweet and salty. Physically being together, however, is like adding the umami flavor. Umami creates dimension and adds a full-bodied feeling component. That’s what’s so magical about in-person celebrations – you can feel them. (I also have written about how flowers add to the feeling of an event, which can be found on the INVESTMENT page). Umami is subtle compared to sweet, salty, sour, and bitter, but it is unique and distinct. Umami adds depth. Events that are experienced in person add richness to those occasions that virtual gatherings cannot create.
Though I am sure this list is not comprehensive, here are the benefits of celebratory gatherings:
Celebrations Are Fun and Relieve Stress
Celebrations are times where we can forget about everything else and focus on being in the moment. Planned events are often filled with delicious food and drink, great company, and lively entertainment – all the indulgences and things that make us feel good. They often include the expression of deep emotions, whether that’s laughter or tears, which are both forms of release.
Celebrations Signify Life Milestones
Celebrating milestones in our lives anchors meaning to them. They become rich marks in time and define different stages in our lives. This helps us better understand the narratives of our own lives and creates conceptual structure.
Celebrations Deepen Gratitude
When we take time to stop, reflect on, and celebrate important milestones in our lives our gratitude for these things deepens. In a culture that seems to always be focused on the future, on growth, and on what’s next, pausing to acknowledge things of significance gives more importance to them. When we stop to focus our attention on something it becomes more valuable.
Celebrations Create Memories
It has been somewhat of a recent trend to value experiences more than things. That being said, weddings and other celebrations can be some of the best and most rich experiences of our lives. The richness of a celebration is such a visceral experience that those feelings stay with us forever.
When we are on the other side of coronavirus and we are able to safely gather together again, fresh from isolation and social distancing, we are going to appreciate being close to one another like never before. Reunions, birthday parties, conferences, anniversaries, weddings, and other events will become top priority. After-all, sharing joy with one another is what makes life so sweet.
I want to leave you with a photo that always brings a smile to my face (and usually a laugh!). Last summer my sister and I threw a Surprise 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration for my mom and step-dad at the Kaua’i Marriott Resort. The incredibly talented Photographer that we hired, Penny Dinn, beautifully captured the first moment of surprise. Images like the one below are reason enough to host live events. I hope this image makes you laugh out loud. Enjoy!