I guess I didn’t really experience the world prior to the pandemic.
Most of my life has been lived in some sort of isolation. It wasn’t always voluntary (or at least, anything that a conscious choice could change) – but it became a defining habit; impossible to break.
When I took on the idea of Skeleton for this blog – when the idea showed up one day and refused to go away – I came to realize it was no accident. The childhood Halloween figures of skeletons and ghosts have always had a place in my affections; they’re forever separate from the world around them, and they’re forever just a bit out of step with time. They can’t really join others, and they can’t really move on. In a certain inalterable sense, they’re alone.
Of course, this all sounds terribly emo. It’s funny and ridiculous, and I really need to do something about my bangs. But it’s the closest I can come to expressing the reality of the matter, putting some sort of rhyme or reason to the business.
Most of the things They say won’t come back are things I always thought I had yet to experience.
Crowds, travel, conferences, collaboration, concerts, clubbing, or whatever else people do with each other on busy Friday nights. Wander through New York City; explore Shanghai or Tokyo or the rest of the world’s cities, big beautiful creatures of light and dark and constant change.
Very few things in life actually disappear, but most things change beyond understanding. Quite a few things have changed beyond my understanding, in a matter of months. The fact that I didn’t understand them to begin with does not lessen my sense of loss.
I’d like to shrug all of this off. I’d like to hide it under my coffee cup as I get up to go about my day. But loss is as important a thing as happiness, reassurance, creation. It must be acknowledged. Without it, I can’t honestly go about rebuilding my life or the world we share.
Our world has lost things. It has lost people. Families have lost loved ones; loved ones have lost the chance to say goodbye. Students have lost futures they dreamed of; parents have lost jobs and economic security. Communities have lost cohesion. Trust, respect, and a sense of shared values have fallen victim to political grandstanding and the darker side of (selective) social distancing.
We had tools to prevent this.
We didn’t. Things broke down. Things usually do.
Do we have tools to rebuild?
Sometimes you have to lose expectations. If it comes down to it, I’ll give up the things I always thought I’d do, someday. Because now it’s today, and I’m not ready to lose whatever future is out there.