Lost and Found
By Mackenzie Mason, Arts Editor
Loss — it’s something that everyone has experienced plenty of since the pandemic began. However, many including myself have found something much more meaningful in its void.
It’s been a tough year, and in times when I’m struggling mentally, my emotional outlets have always been travelling, shows and concerts. All of which have been cancelled and postponed until further notice.
Let me go back a little. Concerts have been my happy place ever since I can remember. There’s something so magical about a jam-packed arena filled with strangers, all bonding over a beautiful set of lyrics, a drumbeat you feel coursing through your veins or a guitar riff that makes your soul ascend a little.
At this point, I don’t know how many concerts I’ve been to, or how many of my favourite artists I’ve had the privilege to meet. All I know is that music has always been there for me, through the hard times and through the good.
I am lucky enough to have the most loving and supportive parents that would take me around the continent if it meant seeing my favourite artists live. I’ve gone to Toronto, Las Vegas and even New York for concerts and they are memories that I will cherish for my entire lifetime.
I’ve waited in queues at 6 am for concerts that don’t even start until 9 pm — and while that sounds like an awful time, especially in Calgary’s brutally cold Februaries, nothing beats the feeling of meeting people, having conversations and making deep connections with complete strangers that feel just as you do towards a band and their music.
Travelling is, or was, another one of my deep passions.
In 2020, I was supposed to travel throughout Asia. I was supposed to go to India with Mount Royal University for a month to visit an ashram and make a documentary on how the climate crisis and the lack of waste management in the country has affected these children’s lives.
Afterwards, I was going to pursue my own travels through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos and I had an extended layover in Japan on my way home booked.
But in the middle of March, three weeks before I was supposed to leave, the first few cases of COVID-19 began to pop-up in Canada. A week later, the pandemic cancelled everything.
This prompted my two-week trip to Hawaii in July with my family and my boyfriend to be cancelled, as well as my week-long trip to Vancouver in August to reunite with my best friend and see Harry Styles front row — no matter how long we had to wait outside the venue.
Then the Calgary Stampede was cancelled.
Country Thunder was cancelled two weeks later.
Within three months, the virus ripped and pried from my hands everything that I thought would bring me complete and utter joy.
The beginning of the pandemic was incalculable and unyielding. I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know how to help myself stay positive when I had nothing to look forward to.
I felt stuck.
I began to realize how much I took for granted before the pandemic. I suddenly found myself regretting all the times I declined an invite to a party in place of sitting in my bed and doing nothing — something I have done way too much of since the start of the pandemic.
But during the time I’ve spent alone or with my family, I don’t think I’m the only one who found a more profound sense of peace and gratitude for those we have in our lives.
As the saying goes, in the absence of someone or something, the heart grows fonder (or something like that).
In all the time spent physically apart from my friends, I found my relationships becoming more meaningful and intentional.
Before the pandemic, I had friendships where no effort was being made to actually see each other. Once lockdowns were in full swing, though, we were actively checking in with each other and scheduling video chat dates to ease our sense of isolation.
My grandfather was getting very sick months before the pandemic came. He had been diagnosed with cancer in 2019, but his health began to decline right before the pandemic was about to isolate us all.
My family was very fortunate to be able to get my grandparents moved into our basement suite a week before the government enforced full isolation.
Though my grandpa’s state slowly deteriorated as the months went by, my family got to spend a Christmas season full of love and gratitude for our situation and all the time together we were given. He passed away peacefully two weeks later.
Though it’s hard in the moment to understand why things happen the way they do, I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason.
Without the pandemic cancelling what I thought was everything I had to look forward to, I was graced with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in those closest to me and realize what truly matters — love.