For most of the delegates this is the first time they have taken off their masks in public since late 2019. This is my first time outside Australia since our borders closed in early 2020. It’s the first time I have been in a conference environment since before the pandemic. That’s how we speak about the passing of time now, isn’t it? Before the Pandemic and now we’re not even sure when After the Pandemic began, even if it has at all.There is a shakiness and a strangely, almost primal urge to be held in the embrace of a stranger. I can’t even explain how it feels to want to hold the world again, in my hands, and to breathe the air in unison with others and at the same time to feel the danger.
I lay in my hotel bed last night imagining I had let the enemy virus in. I’m not alone in this. I spent time talking with a beautiful man from India who said he felt he was violating a rule. I stood with a group of women from various parts of the globe and we hatched a plan. If we get Covid at the conference we will rent a house on the Bay of Biscay and stay there for the mandatory 14 days of quarantine. We will form a collective of the infected. It was the strangest conversation but just like imagining the plane will crash and you won’t feel a thing — it brought relief. We laughed and moved on, touching wood, saying prayers and pushing the fear down.
This Summit is all about how those who create social change across the world can be supported in the grief and the weight of planning and creating for others. There is a way forward, we are all agreed that we will make it to the After the Pandemic but things will be different. It’s my newest prayer : Things will be different. Amen.