Anthroposophy NYC Blog
(dispatches from social isolation)
First Offerings: Gisela Wielki
I am definitely a zoom friendly person. One of my favorite features on the camera is zooming in and zooming out. (See the May Queen photo below.) I will continue to enjoy this feature long after this pandemic is over and we can again look directly into each other’s eyes.
I also belong to the older “compromised” generation. Some of us are slower in warming up to the explosion of digital tools these days, and zooming was not part of my communication tool box prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Soon into my first experiences with zoom meetings, I observed some mental and emotional respiratory distress. I felt: I can’t breathe. I can’t think. This sucks all the oxygen out of my brain.
By now it is the mental health care experts that sound the alarm, and the irony should not be lost on us. The explosive electronic, digital response to a physical respiratory illness set off a mental and emotional respiratory pandemic. It leaves people feeling out of breath, gasping for air, suffering from collapsed “social” lungs. All this on account of the many digital tools people have chosen or are now expected to use in daily life.
For myself, the digital pandemic highlights and reconfirms the things I value in face-to-face communication. One is the eye contact as well as the “I” contact with the other person, especially when the content shared is of warmth and substance, and the exchange of ideas is inspiring and the thinking rigorous, be it in a group meeting or in a one on one conversation.
I need to see. The possibility to let the eye wander out the window or rest on some painting or a crack in the wall or a stain on the floor, allows visual depth. And who would ever tire of tracing from close up or even a distance the subtle and ever changing facial expressions of a human face, instead of staring at faces trapped in a grid? People are exquisitely sensitive to one another’s most subtle facial expression, they all disappear on pixelated video or, worse, are frozen, smoothed over or delayed to preserve bandwidth.
I savor the pause, not the stalling. It is one of my favorite components in a conversation, in a talk. A pause allows a few thoughts to commune for a moment and rearrange themselves. It need not be a long pause, only a caesura, but one in which one can sense breath and which allows to tune into the voice of the other afresh.
Let us take a deep breath already now in anticipation of the receding Zoom flood and our return to looking each other in the eye, of pausing to let thoughts deepen and to hear and recognize each other’s voice in an environment of yes, physical closeness.
Photos by Gisela Wielki
Breathe the Breath
May Queen (a profile with cherry petal ruff, zoomed in on in a water puddle in Riverside Park, NYC)
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