By Jack Canfora
“Do you always wait for the longest day of the summer and then miss it?” asked Daisy Buchanan. “We should do something,” American literature’s shallowest character continues, before asking, “What do people do?” It’s a fair question. We’re heading into perhaps the most eagerly awaited summer of many of our lives. A year and half of cabin fever and panic, there’s finally a sense that we can maybe inch our our way back to some feeling of, well, feeling.
I went to my first post-pandemic party last weekend – an engagement party for a friend. I had a great time, but what I found, not very surprisingly, is that I was exhausted afterwards. Bone weary, despite the lack of physical exertion or even conscious stress.
When we’re first learning to walk, our body has to consciously learn the dozens of slight muscular adjustments and rebalancing it takes every second just to stand up, let alone move where we want to. I think the same thing the same thing happens to us socially. The countless, fractional, subconscious adjustments we make to read body language, tone, group behavior, in short – being with other humans – are ingrained in us early and often. Granted, some of us are less adept than others, just as some people can run faster than others. But we all have these muscles, and they all work beneath the radar of our conscious minds constantly.
Foe me, anyway, the last 15 months or so have caused a slow but inexorable atrophy of those muscles. Not the walking ones. I can still walk as well as ever, which frankly, has never been my forte. The social muscles have slowed and lost any sense of stamina. But I expect they’ll return, even if they lag a bit longer than we would have expected.
That’s OK. Give yourself time. And realize everyone around probably needs some time, too. Also, wear sunscreen. Have a happy summer! That, Mrs. Buchanan, is what I’m planning on doing.
To be clear, that pool isn’t mine.
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