Uncertainty has a way of letting air out of the balloon. I keep trying to blow it back up but the barrage of the unknown is more persuasive than my efforts, my optimism.
Like an actor in a play in front of a live audience, I’ve forgotten my lines. We both know it. I look around but no one can help. My heart starts to race; sweating, I search for answers. Nothing. I stand frozen in time, anxious and alone trying to remember what to say. Blank. With every shallow breath, the audience fades further and further. Void. Oblivion. A sepia landscape composed of memories, woven certitudes, and salvation, now gone.
I knew exactly how to run my life until now. How to turn it on and off. I was so good at what I did I even took it for granted sometimes. Like we all do. I’d say things like, “I’ll get to that later,” or my recent favorite, “That doesn’t really matter.” Too much work and not enough time. Weighing priorities was never fun but I did what I had to stay afloat. What I wouldn’t give to have that luxury right now: too much work. What I wouldn’t give to have a job again.
One of the most difficult things to process is not everything horrific can be stopped. Not everything pandemic is intentional. Not everything has a reason and not everything has a solution. Some things don’t even serve a purpose. It’s a lot to digest: A worldwide pandemic, the loss of work and identity, an imminent financial crisis, total global uncertainty, and, on top of all that, being quarantined until further notice. “Until further notice,” alone, is enough to unravel anyone. We are all gonna look back on this with such disbelief. I’m in disbelief about how often I’m in disbelief.
Seeing friends rationalize wealth over health is probably the most difficult. I don’t know why this is so challenging now, as it’s always been this way for most. I’ve had higher hopes for collective consciousness, but that’s just not how humans are wired. It’s not what makes us tick. Self-winding clocks, gears grinding to the rhythm of revenue nailed to Wall Street in narcissistic servitude. Allured by the illusion of one day, conceivably, becoming someone else. Longing for excess we scratch the eyes out of neighbors, step over our elders and flatulate CO2 into the muzzles of children, all in the name of generational supremacy. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to see we were mistaken. The fragility of life, cruel infections, the absence of alms, all of it. This quarantine, it’s Luminol on the human psyche and everyone is coming up fluorescent blue.
As we race to the corner store donning the spring line of post-apocalyptic H&M apparel or crash the government website trying to take whatever we can from whatever’s left, we have to ask ourselves: was it all worth it? If you truly feel despondent, scared, and angry, would you really blame your neighbor for it? Once you reach the point of every man for himself, there’s no turning back.
We all like to think we know exactly how we’d handle the lamp, rub, and ensuing three wishes. We’ve played this game with ourselves for years. Envisioning a life with no concerns and excess so grand we’d all buy our mother a house. You know the dream. But if Aladdin knocked on your door tonight, likely in clinical mask and rubber gloves, could you spare a wish? Just one. If not, don’t expect to borrow a cup of sugar when you run out.