Written by Jasey Roberts
It is hard to remain hopeful.
Because why should I? After talks of a third World War in January alone, we are entering another Great Depression. I am looking for a job in a time when everything is closing out of fear – when two weeks ago if you’d mentioned the idea of me hunting for a job in addition to schoolwork I would’ve scoffed at you. I have said my premature goodbyes to all of my senior friends over Zoom. I have registered for classes with no real assurance that we will have offline classes next semester. Despite the precautionary measures put in place, the projections and statistics show that, in all likelihood, almost everyone will be touched in some way by this virus. In a very literal, primal sense – no one is safe.
How do I reconcile that? I am writing while stuck in my parents’ house, where nothing seems to work. I am a slave to the sink that takes ten minutes to get warm enough for me to wash my hands responsibly, to the clogged, hissing toilet that takes ten minutes to be capable of being flushed again, and to the shower that takes only ten minutes to run cold. Time is restraining me. Time is my enemy here – which is ironic because, right now, time is all any of us have.
And I wish this could be that impassioned speech à la Independence Day, i.e., “we will not go quietly into the night,” etc. , but in this new era of “My Corona” parody covers set to “My Sharona” and “COVID-19” set to “Come On Eileen,” it’s difficult for the aforementioned night to not seem very approachable, even welcoming. In the face of the endless cortège of memes that are out of touch and poor of taste, we’re faced with one important question: is oblivion worth it?
To state the obvious: no, it isn’t. And we aren’t going to be obliviated. Just bored. Chances are, for a very long time. We are not just creatures of habit, but of comfort, too. To me, self isolation initially meant ignoring emails and schoolwork; I was creating a burrow for myself stocked with chips and candy and endless feeds of captivating yet ultimately useless information. “Why work out when all the gyms are closed?” I thought as I slid Pringles down my throat, actively choosing to forget my three-month old New Year’s resolution. I’ve seen cheese expire later than my own personal commitments – but I digress.
The purpose of all of this is to say that as a young person with (hopefully) a future, I like to stay optimistic. And COVID-19 is getting in the way of all of us doing that. As of the time of my writing this, the global death count sits at around 18,500. That number is astonishing, but no one is talking about the amount of vibes killed as a result of this crisis. The news has been branding government efforts to suppress COVID-19 as those of countries in wartime, which, while not inaccurate, I want to suggest that it isn’t a complete truth.
We aren’t fighting a war of just physical health, but of emotional and mental health as well. We, as human beings, are resistant to isolation for reasons that are obvious yet hard to explain: it is corrosive to the soul. Without other people – without friends and colleagues – it feels quite literally like hell on earth. But it will get better. I’d like to treat those of you still reading to another quote from Independence Day (great speech; terrible movie): “Mankind – that word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interest. (…) We’re fighting for our right to live. To exist.”
I don’t mean to imply that our circumstances are nearly as dire, however, I do wish to imply that when quarantine ends, we will emerge as happier, brighter, kinder people with a newfound appreciation for life and the mundane – as survivors of tragedy often do.
My best and only advice is appreciate the time that you have right now, however unexpected it might be, and choose to use it wisely. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to help my mom do her “Jolene” parody cover for Facebook.