It’s always been a point that has been stressed over the most recent decades – how communication is more than just the words being said – a bigger percentage of the meaning comes from body language and tone. In the time of the coronavirus pandemic, where masks and face shields are mandatory, it has been harder to actually hear what words people are saying specifically, and even harder to read the meaning behind the words they are using.
I’ve recently been in a situation where I had to get direction from someone shouting through all the noise, and it is of utmost frustration to have to make him repeat what he was saying because I couldn’t hear. I found that it’s so exasperating to have people repeat what they want to say just because I couldn’t hear properly through the masks and face shields. And I find it even sadder that when there are good things to be expressed – compliments, gratitude, fascination, appreciation – we now have to settle for assuming how the people expressing these emotions look like instead of the pleasure of seeing it for ourselves. With nothing but their eyes and what we can hear from the tone of their voice, we just imagine how the rest of their face looks so we get to fill in the blanks.
I honestly never got to contemplate this, never realized how much the nose and the mouth contributed to the full meaning of the communication, and how I long for the complete expression of feeling that is afforded by these two factors. I miss seeing people’s full faces, and I realize that although I am citing the communication lapses as what I yearn for, I also miss the beauty of everyone’s full essence – something that masks are just depriving me of these days.
I miss the richness of communication that we all took for granted when half of our faces weren’t required to have covering on them. I miss the big, open mouthed laughs from jokes or other stories we would share with one another. I miss the toothy smiles of people, and how it makes their faces all the more nourishing to look at – and how the light that this brings just makes them more pleasant people to be around. I miss the full beauty of a person’s countenance. I miss the full spectrum of emotion and energy that is shared through these wonderful, expressive features that masks are hiding from the world right now.
It’s hard, and frustrating, especially when you’re the type who’s always craving for authentic connection. So much of it comes from what is emitted by our faces. And when half of it is covered all the time, it’s like we’re just getting half of what we paid for.
I know we have to continue keeping safe. And I know this is one of the best and simplest ways we can do that. My hopes are high for the day we can finally breathe good air without feeling guilty, talk to one another, and share our full persons, exchange the beauty in our hearts via the look on our faces, for the whole world to see and appreciate once again.