Today was the first day I wanted to write. For the past several days my mind has been too full to function. Most days it’s just felt like TV static. It’s all been too much to process.
But today the clouds cleared, and I woke up with clear and present feelings rising to the top. It’s the strangest, most surreal cocktail of emotions: fear, anger, disbelief. More fear. Hope. There’s something both comforting and unsettling about the entire world feeling these things at once.
My immediate feeling is always fear.
Fear for my loved ones’ lives. For my life and my partner’s life. For everyone’s lives, all around the world. Fear that nothing will ever be normal again. That we’ll be trapped inside forever, that we’ve unknowingly experienced our last tight hug, our last dinner with friends, our last birthday party. That this is the new normal. Fear that a single microorganism, hardly a living thing, has the power to bring the world to its knees overnight.
Upon reading the headlines, hot, seething anger. Anger that we should all have to suffer as a result of governments’ negligence. That irresponsible actions at the top have already led to thousands of needless deaths at the bottom. That so many people are without the resources they need to make it through an event like this, that children are relying on charities to provide them with their meals for the day.
That people will continue to be selfish — jetting off to beaches, hoarding resources, flocking in droves to crowded bars — until all their freedoms are forcibly taken away. Like children continuing to misbehave until their privileges are revoked. Governments and citizens alike, all behaving like children at the tipping point.
A tumultuous wash of disbelief.
This feels like something that could never happen in real life. Something that’s only written about in books, conceptual rather than concrete, easy to relegate to a distant and dusty corner of your mind. One of those monumental happenings with the potential to change the course of history forever. At several points I’ve found myself tossing around the words “quarantine” and “lockdown” with unsettling normalcy. Often it feels like living in the pages of a dystopian novel.
More fear. Dark, spiraling, thrashing fear, gnashing its teeth at the gate, ever present. The realization that life is so volatile, ready to change in an instant. That nothing is permanent. That I’ve lived my whole life fearing all the wrong things, and now that time — precious, irreplaceable time — has been lost.
And then, faintly at first: hope. Reminders of what life can be, wedged thinly between all the dissonance and discomfort. A hot cup of coffee, a walk in the sun, a phone call with friends. Suddenly, the important things are the only things that remain. Today I felt a sudden and overwhelming sense of gratitude for all the things I’ve taken for granted before.
I’m counting the days until I can visit a friend, discover a new city with wide-eyed wonder, or stand shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers at a crowded concert. May this serve as a reminder to be present in these moments. When, one day, we experience each moment for the last time, may we have lived them so fully that we can say, “that’s enough.”
It’s an incredible privilege to be able to view our current state with anything but anger and fear.
That I’m able to feel hope at all speaks to the many advantages I’m lucky to have. Millions of people around the world are only suffering, and they need our help. If you’re in a privileged position, please give back in any way you can. You can give to a charity to provide a meal to a child in need, or donate to a food bank (admit it: you bought more canned beans and toilet paper than you realistically need), or give blood to the Red Cross.
This is undeniably a difficult and emotional time to be alive, no matter who or where you are. Our actions now determine our outcomes later. If we all act accordingly, we can save lives and skirt the edges of sure tragedy. Allow yourself to feel, to process while your thoughts feel like TV static and your brain feels like soup, to cry and panic and laugh. Then take action. Do what you can to move us all toward a more hopeful future.
Charities to donate to during coronavirus (COVID-19):
No Kid Hungry, to provide meals to underprivileged children who previously relied on school lunches
Feeding America, to support local food pantries
Your local United Way, to help provide healthcare and financial support to affected people in your community
American Red Cross, to donate blood or give financial support to healthcare organizations and affected people around the country
A local charity to provide relief in your area