2020. Life as we know it has changed significantly. Well, for the time being.
How many times have you heard the word ‘unprecedented’ lately?
When the words ‘unprecedented’, ‘World Health Organisation’ and ‘worldwide pandemic’ are regular phrases in the daily news cycle, it is warranted to assume that the rapid spread of Covid-19 is just a dream. Could we ever have imagined the horrific, worldwide death toll, an empty Times Square or literal countries locked away inside their homes? I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve used the word surreal.
During March I had to stop watching the news. Although I have settled (mentally) into this version of normality for the moment, I found myself staring into the television each day while my chest tightened and panic washed over me. Information was flooding my brain with what if’s instead of me focusing on the right now and the tangible situation in front of me. It was easy to lose all perspective.
PSA: I’m not a psychologist. I’m just a writer with some personal beliefs that you’ve chosen to skim through in this dark corner of the internet.
But I believe that right now, it is the uncertainty of this unprecedented situation that has caused us the most panic. For many, we only know what the media tells us. If you had the unfortunate experience of catching the virus or knowing someone who has, I don’t begin to understand your level of fear and vulnerability. And I do not reside in one of the worst-hit countries. In fact, I don’t even have a friend of a friend who has been infected. Many of us have simply been victim to information and terror-inducing phrasing from our ‘trusty’ media outlets. This information has been rammed down our throats every five minutes since the start of the year. The result; every man for himself.
On my own journey within this chaos, I was scared for my employment and life as I knew it. Would I keep my job? Would my workplace go bust? Could I afford to pay my bills? The sudden panic-buying of toilet paper and hand sanitiser had me questioning what I needed to do to protect myself, but that’s just it. Everyone started to think of themselves and each individual person lost perspective in a way in which was subjective to them and their personal fears.
As I write, it’s late April 2020 and I count myself to be lucky for what has been a minor impact to my personal life due to the coronavirus but I do know that it was the unknown that caused the tightening of my chest. The restless nights, the 24-hour news cycle and the imagery of what could best be described as a scene out of a movie left me sick to my stomach. We are all terrified of the ‘what if’ and finding our own ways to take some control back. Our social climate during this period will be one studied for years to come. If you are alive for this, you have become a part of history.
When observing the current social climate, I’m left quite horrified of what has happened when everyone started to think of themselves. Once again, I’ve seen it in the movies; the typical zombie apocalypse plot line and the people shooting at each other to get to the last box of long-life beans in the supermarket. But doesn’t it feel like we were only a few levels away from this? Meanwhile, I’ve witnessed complaints about being stuck inside, not being able to go to the beach and not being able to buy alcohol in bulk. I’m embarrassed to say that our society will forever be known for the toilet paper saga of 2020. We have lost sight, people.
When I turn off the television and have a look around, I have been so grateful for the roof over my head, the luxury of feeling safe and to have enough money in my pocket to keep myself fed. Yes, I had my work hours cut, my income decreased and I have been stressed. I worry about my immunosuppressed father, my partners lack of income and my employer’s depression. I’ve also witnessed small, family-owned businesses closing down, individuals losing their jobs and I’ve listened one hundred times over to a reporter declaring another Covid-related death . These are the real things.
I read a quote on social media from Haroon Rashid. He talks about how the earth carries on while we as humans complain about being caged. He said “suddenly you realize that power, beauty and money are worthless” because this pandemic has taken us away from our loved ones, our physical freedom and many small things that we take for granted. This is a beautiful perspective that so deeply resonates with me while I witness people fighting over toilet paper and whinging that they cannot go to the beach.
What is my point? True freedom comes from within our mind. The simple things like a bed, a hug from a loved one and a $2.00 serving of mac and cheese should be reminders of how lucky we are but also a sign of how small we are on this earth. Just like that, a pandemic was declared and we fell into a spiral of pettiness, selfishness and ungratefullness.
Freedom comes from within. Go find it.