How Can We Learn About Ourselves From The Pandemic?

In an oddly unwelcoming fashion, all our friends were unceremoniously dispersed with no proper closure for goodbyes. Sure, we can meet online. Similar to how chicken rice always seems a little empty without chilli, our online relationships are lacking a little something too, isn’t it? In such moments of plague, it is difficult to find something encouraging and inspiring to say to anyone, especially without being dishonest or cloying. It almost feels like our future has been cancelled, albeit temporarily. It almost feels like this part of our life is some unimportant provisional period, like the mindless Netflix intros we’ve skipped past through multiple times.

We’re faced with an unending present with a normal future to look forward to, only to be constantly surrounded and reminded that the norm we were used to won’t be the norm anymore.

As much as we would like to shy away from the truth, I believe this pandemic came sort of a reprieve to most, if not all of us. Unlike wine, we may have aged, but have we grown better? Across the decades that we’ve lived through precariously, did we develop to be better as a sibling, as a son, as an employee, as a professional, as a person? I don’t think many of us care enough to stop and think. Naturally, we only start to care a little more than usual when things are urgent, important or both. Being equally urgent and important, this abrupt cessation of all human interaction engaged a different gear of our mindsets. All of a sudden, we’re behaving differently. We’re thinking differently, like how we first discovered multiplication as compared to addition. We start to envision a professional future where we go into quarantine with how little we can accomplish cloistered away from the world and focus on the personal things that in one point in our lives mattered a lot to us.

Some of us picked our guitars up. Some of us learned to cook. Some of us talked to our family members.

We begin to do things that may seem trivial or trivial to others, but it does not matter. It does not matter, because others do not exist right now. With the quarantine, we’re essentially living in our own bubbles doing what we truly love to do with zero judgment and care of others. We start to learn to live for ourselves, than to live for what others expect of us. Soon, we realise that some of our greatest pleasure come from taking an unintended extended afternoon nap all the way to rewatching Friends with a tub of Haagen Dazs ice cream. However, I also come to understand that this pandemic comes across less of a relief and more of a screaming panic to some others too. Not everyone can afford to live physically and emotionally on a hiatus until we’re allowed to resume our real (?) lives again. But this IS real. This portion of our time that we’re supposed to allocate to something more goal-oriented that could potentially propel us forward to some long-term achievement and recognition, this portion of our time, that we’re apparently squandering away, matters. Whether we sit glumly indoors or talk to our 35 cm Eevee plush soft toy in a kiddish squeaky voice, time is still running its course.

Instead of crashing head-on, we can try to ride the waves of our emotion.

Whenever we anticipate and start to experience an overwhelming wave, we should not fight it. We should not ignore it. We should pay attention. It is like how when the ladies start to pick a fight along memory lane (and you’ll know it, because chances are you’ll have the vaguest impression of what happened years ago), the worst thing to do is to go against them. You don’t know if you were wrong, you don’t know how you were wronged and the best part of it all, you don’t know if there was even anything wrong, which is probably what is wrong. When we’re caught in such a situation, be it an emotional tsunami or “Do you remember that time when you..”, we ought to listen. When we listen, it allows us to experience suffering differently. When we listen, we turn the suffering into an object of contemplation. We start to see various points and milestones, and we can learn from the host of information. This pandemic, like all recessions, is only an interruption, not an end. One day, we’ll return to waving goodbyes to our friends again. One day, we’ll return to reminisce about now.

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Terence C.

There is a fine line between fishing and doing nothing. We would like to think that we’re fishing, but the truth is we don’t have the line.