Phase 2 of our reopening has begun, and with our infection rates continuing to decline here in NYC, the irony is not lost on me that profound changes happened to us even when we were trapped in stasis.
During the past 3 months since March 20th — the country’s longest — I didn’t lament just the loss of discrete “things” such as work, hangouts or trips, I also mourned the promise of “missed connections,” “lost opportunities,” “the ones that got away,” and “what could have been.” That’s why quarantines, as necessary as they may be to save lives in the interest of public health, is harder than we give ourselves credit for.
I have thus reframed my own lockdown and pandemic experience as not only an odyssey of trauma and uncertainty with no end in sight, but also a pilgrimage I have embarked on with countless others of my generation — a different type of journey where in lieu of visiting other countries, we instead steered inwards and towards a different kind of foreign territory of self-growth. And thus I have been recovering from my grief through reclaiming a personal agency as I have had for any loss: I must come out of this stronger.
Therefore privileged to have been spared from death during this pandemic so far, I have instead uncovered unexpected opportunities to become even more resilient — Can we garner more freedom from fear, no longer postpone life and experiences long overdue, be a little less fragile over a simple piece of facecloth, nurture greater empathy for what others have been enduring, and discover avenues to work together for a better society amidst perennial pandemics of disease, iniquity, and injustice?
If we can reexamine challenges that come with a lockdown instead as part of a meditative transformative experience to become better individuals, then we no longer have to mourn “what could have been” —
We would instead have become “what could have been.”
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- At time of posting in NYC, it was 29 °C - Humidity: 36% | Wind Speed: 19km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy