“A philosopher once asked, “Are we human because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are human?” Pointless, really…”Do the stars gaze back?” Now, that’s a question.”Source: Neil Gaiman
I do not have the words for what is currently happening.
There is so much uncertainty. It is almost crushing, the sheer weight of the unknown. I didn’t realize that it would be so heavy. I didn’t understand how much I relied on knowledge, on the fact that today would at least be similar to tomorrow, that yesterday was like today, and that this would repeat indefinitely.
I didn’t realize how much I was taking for granted.
My work. My gym. My yoga studio. My favorite bars and shops. Seeing friends whenever I wanted. I look back on the things I complained about (my commute, various social gatherings) and I am sad. I did not appreciate the freedom of movement enough, nor the joy of being around others.
Even now, as I write this, I imagine that there is still more to this Coronavirus curve. We are really only at the beginning of what might be a very long and arduous journey. I might look back at quarantined and socially-distanced Kyla, and laugh at her worries and woes.
I never imagined this.
I don’t think anyone did.
To be in a world where you must avoid your fellow humans, where you must tuck yourself away in your home, to flatten the curve, to protect others, to put this behind us.
I think of the businesses, who will experience shocks that could be unsurvivable. I think of the weddings and funerals, celebrations and memorials, cancelled. Those without jobs. Those without money. Those with concerns and fears far heavier than mine. I am so fortunate to be able to work from home, with a wonderful company, to have been enough of a doomsday prepper to have mentally prepped for this since early January. I recognize this.
I tried to simmer the fear down. My brain likes to latch onto the “worst possible” of everything. It was becoming increasingly difficult to function because of my intense worries – being a conduit of the sickness, of watching the market response, of worrying for my father and mother and my grandparents, of the fear felt so intensely by those that understood the depths of what we were facing.
It was like this for two months. At first it seemed like everything would be fine.
No one else was worried. I bought five packages of rice, and went on. I breathed. But it was all I thought about.
I remember talking to my dad. Late February. It feels like years since that conversation.
“Are you worried about the virus?”
I expected him to say no, because he is infinitely smarter than I am and the most well-read person I know.
That is when I knew that it was indeed different this time.
Over the next few weeks, I watched the market unravel. I watched society descend into a strange state of chaos. I watched the Toilet Paper Wars. Grocery stores emptied.
I graduated college in May 2019. I am 22 years old. I remember glimmers of the Recession, but not intensely enough. This is the first true shock I have ever experienced, and we are experiencing what looks to be a crisis of unprecedented proportions.
I watch, everyday, the ticker go from red to green to red again, or simply stay red, or stay green. I read articles, so many articles. I listen to as many people as I can because something still inside me wants to know that it is going to be okay.
And in terms of probability, it will be. Normal distributions and reversions to the mean are laws of nature. I also believe in the strength of the mind. We can overcome great things.
But that doesn’t mean that the path won’t be bumpy. That it won’t be scary. That we won’t feel emotions so intensely that the sheer force knocks us off our feet.
I am alone in Los Angeles. I have friends, mentors, co-workers, but they are socially distanced. I sit in my teeny tiny studio, perched on a cardboard box because I never bought a chair, typing these words in a world where time feels too fluid, trying to process something that still feels like a dream.
What if I made a mistake along the way? What if I could have somehow raised the alarm bell? What could I have done to stop this? Why is this happening? What made it happen? Will there be an end, and if there is, what will the new beginning look like?
Can humans get through this? Can we as a species (as that is what we are at our roots) deal with fear and uncertainty and the unknown, or will it wrap us inside of ourselves?
We forget our biological connection far too often.
We are all the same, underneath the flesh and societal standards and divisiveness. Just skeletons wandering around on a blue and green marble.
I choose to believe in humans.
We have done some awful things. Political parties STILL battle each other on COVID-19, as though it’s some partisan decree that the other declared. We still have intense xenophobia, coming from the administration and bleeding through to the populace. We still fight and bicker and argue about what this is, what it means, why does x = y, or maybe it’s actually y = x?
Put that aside.
This is a human problem.
This is not a democratic problem, this is not a conservative problem. This is not a China or South Korea or India or Brazil or USA problem. This is not a Christian or Jewish or Muslim problem. It is not a white or black problem.
This is a HUMAN problem. And like it or not, we are all humans.
We are all the same. The virus does not discriminate based on class* or race or age or gender or ethnicity or career choice.
It impacts lives across the board, and most definitely some lives more intensely than others. It takes lives. It leaves some stranded. Those who are performers watched their shows get cancelled. Retail workers and hotel employees saw hours get cut. Small businesses are vulnerable.
We must band together (in isolation) as humans, during these immensely trying times.
We are all exhausted. That is okay. This is emotional upheaval, fear, anxiety, worries, all bundled into one little package.
We must not forget about each other. We must not forget our roots. We must not forget the depths of humanity.
We must remember what binds us, even when we cannot be together.
Do not forget that at the end of the day, at the end of this road called life, we are all made of the same bones and gray matter, assembled differently with different coverings, but so very similar at our core.
We are all humans.
I will get off my soapbox now. Fear is rampant. That’s okay. But we must not let it control us.
If you can, help others (here is a link with different donation opportunities).
Support your local businesses.
Stay inside, wash your hands, do your part, call your loved ones.
Thank your healthcare workers, as they are warriors in this fight.
Take deep breaths.
Drink water. Workout. Stretch.
And keep moving forward, for it is all we can do.
“Brother, I’m not depressed and haven’t lost spirit. Life everywhere is life, life is in ourselves and not in the external. There will be people near me, and to be a human being among human beings, and remain one forever, no matter what misfortunes befall, not to become depressed, and not to falter – this is what life is, herein lies its task.”Source: Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
And remember, Jared Leto just found out about all of this.
Stay safe and well, my friends.