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GENERATIONS: A reemergence of smiles to share this spring

Even though the weather has not given us much cause to say, “Spring is here!” the re-emergence of smiles is another kind of spring — unrelated to season or weather, a rebirth marked by our resuming of “normal” activities, getting out and interacting.

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Happy post-COVID spring! I hesitate to put that into writing since it’s hard to tell if we will ever really be “post-COVID.” The number of positive cases is up again, but the severity seems lower.

In my visits to schools in Red Lake and Wadena to observe my student teacher, kids and staff are no longer wearing masks, but absences are still common as we pick up other viruses for which we haven’t built up immunity.

My niece, a school social worker, described the first few maskless days working with young students at school, their interesting comments, and their fascination with her mouth and nose — facial features they hadn’t seen before.

It’s good to see people smile again. Through our masking experience, I noticed people smiling more with their eyes, which was great, but the good old-fashioned cheek-to-cheek, tooth-revealing smile that greets you when you run into an old friend you haven’t seen for a while is greatly welcome.

Even though the weather has not given us much cause to say, “Spring is here!” the re-emergence of smiles is another kind of spring — unrelated to season or weather, a rebirth marked by our resuming of “normal” activities, getting out and interacting.

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Most of the people I’ve encountered lately seem to be in pretty good moods. Sure, we all complain about the weather, but that’s nothing new in Minnesota.

In spite of the ice still on the lakes and the daily temps running below average, people seem a little happier, more hopeful. The masks that protected us (and also divided us) are optional now, and with their absence, I hope, we’ll experience a coming together.

People are eager to get into the garden or finish up some of those home projects.

Recently I was at Home Depot buying an area rug. My husband was moving the vehicle closer to the door while I waited in the entry, rug propped up and resting in my arms. In the short time I waited there, I was offered help with the rolled carpet two times by two different gentlemen. I thanked them for their offers and assured them my husband was on his way.

This is how everyday life should be, I thought: people going about their business, noticing other people, offering to help, exchanging small talk, smiling, chatting (complaining) about the weather.

There was no concern about whether we were on the same side of the mask-wearing debate, no worry about politics — just people, going about their lives, doing everyday things, shopping at Home Depot, and offering help if it looked as if it were needed.

All too often, wrapped up in our own insecurities and self-absorption, we notice differences, dwell on them rather than on our commonalities, and judge “different” as “negative.”

When we take time to notice our similarities, our common daily tasks, the joys and sorrows, challenges and accomplishments, the many positive things we have in common, it is not so hard to come together.

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Maya Angelou’s poem “Human Family” comes to mind — a beautiful celebration of our differences with the truth of our sameness in humanity, summed up in her final lines: “I note the obvious differences between each sort and type, but we are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

Related Topics: GENERATIONS
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The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.