Lately, I haven’t really given a shit about what’s going on in the world. If I do check the news, it’s a mindless scroll, one that doesn’t actually allow me to connect with anything beyond a headline. As soon as I open a news story, I just close it immediately, my brain glossing over whatever I’m reading, the informational overload palatable.
It seems like this is how the pandemic ends. Not with a bang, and not with a whimper. You just eventually stop caring about what’s going on – you go to live your life, or whatever is left of it, and try to make sense of the time that passed. Meaning, of course, is something that we retrofit to trauma and tragedy – like the parents of a child who died of cancer who donate time and money to the cause.
But this was a real thing we all went through – a trauma, a tragedy, and what feels like a fever dream. The human brain seems to have the remarkable ability to paper over all of this, to quickly forget what we went through so that we can keep on keeping on. But to what end? You paper over the walls of your mind, replace the damaged drywall, and then you’re left with a blank facade.
I still love to travel, and I have a beautiful wife, a few close friends who don’t live nearby, and the ability to basically do what I want to do. But other than that, I don’t even know. It’s no longer survival – most of us are alive, back to a ‘normal’ state of being. My mental health’s the best it’s been in two years. I don’t fear being in new places, being around people, or even dealing with stressful situations. But of course, I’d still rather not.
What came before feels pretty papered over as well. As though it were a series of events that happened to someone else, to someone who lived in a different reality. I can’t relate with the idea of possibility anymore – what happens next seems like a narrow state of affairs, both for myself and for the world at large. So much time was lost, the type of time that you can’t recover but you also can’t acknowledge.
I want to accomplish both everything and nothing. I have little to prove, and I’ve seen and done a lot. But there’s always more to experience. And there’s always more you can do. What’s more, is it all seems like a new beginning. A chance to redefine what you want and how you see yourself and your place in the world.
With things like the Great Resignation, as well as the rise of remote work, it does seem like there will be some lasting effects for a certain class of people. But the status quo has been preserved – hanging on by a thread, but still intact enough. We’re not going to remake society, and we’ll learn nothing – just like we always do.
I don’t think that’s the outcome that anyone was expecting, especially me. It turns out we can collapse and then carry on like nothing happened. A collective amnesia that I’m sure will be studied for years and years. This pandemic may be receding, although I’m sure it will crop up periodically. Whatever is next, we know what it will look like, and how people will react.
But at least we’ll be prepared.