Dreams… abundant when I was young, often paralyzing – either extravagant or otherworldly. Decades after, now that I am 30 years old, dreams are rare and often significant. They returned when the pandemic started enveloping the world around me. I am captivated with history but there is a sense of panic knowing that the scrolls of my current generation’s greatest events, written at this moment. It is unquestionably eerie and glim… and I am often optimistic, a true realist but always hopeful. This is different.
It hit akin to a crescendo of tremor with no known epicenter on where the pain, chaos, and confusion is whirring from, and everyone seems to have received it from all angles.
All of a sudden, I am standing at a standstill while the news pour on. Lockdowns, postponements, cancelled flights, quarantines, and distancing measures. The impact absolutely felt while the degree of it still unknown, perchance never but undeniably felt. I recall the first few days as cascading wave of emotions and it never plateaued. Therefore, I was at a persistent state of fight or flight.
The early days of the pandemic sure felt like the Earth stood still, rather than news on humankind exploring Mars or going back to the Moon, the universe around us stopped expanding. Most if not all were compelled to stay indoors – it became claustrophobic, whether you live in a small hut or a glass-pane mansion. As everyone around me were trying to catch their breath and manage their circadian rhythm, I for once felt, at least for a longtime, able to breathe. To close your eyes, to inhale and exhale is one exercise that people around the world started to share when the pandemic started. Believe me.
Even when millions are glued to their screens and watching Netflix shows, we all shared instance of tranquility, amidst the brewing chaos.
Going back to the early days of the pandemic, around the start of March 2020. There was an increasing sense of pandemonium on the horizon.
It almost traverse the world of fiction, wherein this moment on Earth seems to exist in a hellish parallel universe.
You can feel it but it is scarcely palpable, almost ignorant to some extent, to the point of utter in denial. I work in social services that deals with mental health and severe disabilities; there is really no option not to show up. We have to show up. I have to be at work. I take pride of my profession. Days leading up to the lockdown, the roads seems ordinary. By each day, the volume of traffic is lesser. Thus, each day before the lockdown, I am 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes early for work. It dawned on me, something is not right. There is some unnerving atmosphere, unexplainable sensation to conventional days. Without the mere expectation that in a few days, the world around me would stand still and shift.
Growing up in the Philippines, I am deeply immerse in Catholicism and I will be the first one to admit that since moving to Canada, uprooting an old life to a completely new world kept me mostly on edge.
This prove to be an irrefutable discordance from something that is so innately part of me. It chalked up a hidden devastation that masked the sadness. This monumental change brought about immense effects on my mental health and overall well-being. When you adapt to a new culture, you tend to be on an adrenaline-driven mode from the time you set foot at the airport to your everyday life.
I tend to relate this phenomenon with Archimedes’ principle of Displacement, it occurs when an object is submerged in a fluid, pushing the liquid out of the way and taking its place.
When you acclimate to a new country and as you absorb a new ethos, there will be things from your past that would be displaced.
This principle also talks about floatation and it is a perfect metaphor of acclimatization, wherein you try adjusting and staying above board at the same time.
2020 to date was my most life-altering year. It is like a fireball painted the sky, it refuses to crash, and so you are merely hovering, overlooking the horizon, wondering if the worse is yet to arrive. 2020 gave me the most panic-inducing moments and sleepless nights.
Strangely though, 2020 has a sense of bipolarity, the year became chaos and solace that alternates faster than a ship warping into the deep, vast space. 2020 grounded us, physically and metaphorically.
It brought about painful awakening that gave you peace while battling your inner demons, rare and necessary, that only an Earth that has stood still could bring. I think in reality, when people are exaggerating working long hours and embracing hustle culture. We are truly clamoring for stillness, for the kaleidoscope around us to pause for more than a millisecond than ordinary.
At the start of the pandemic, I went through a rhapsody of emotions that over heightened the tiny fragments of life. It is as if the mundane, ignored things are superimposed on a painter’s canvass, as I revel on every minuscule detail and zooming it out to offer gratefulness. I see you now.
The tenet behind the global-shifting, morally-challenging pandemic is man’s choices between humanity and, well, lack thereof. At the onset, the oneness is apparent. Cohesion despite diversity, unity amidst the distance. Unison during the expanse. Why is this the case? It is because we identified a common enemy, Covid-19. It rallied us together in merely the blink of an eye. It was astounding before wading and while it lasted, one thing proven more than anything is that humanity can act as one for the common good when desired.
Personally, it commenced a process of soul renewal, as I compartmentalized the everyday struggle and piled woes with an effortful strength as a survival mechanism.
Day to day, some days a step back, and some days a few strides forward. The pandemic and my obsession in work and constant creating such as writing stories intensified an already isolated life.
One of the realizations is the notion that physical proximity solves loneliness, as the poets say, it requires deeper than that. Alternatively, perhaps it is solitude. Belongingness is one of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and as simple as it was illustrated, it is as complex of an idea it is. One that requires multitude of emotions, ideals, and predicament to work in harmony in order to be fulfilled. This amidst the pandemic, I seek.
There is a caustic elegance in seeking the light amidst the burning struggles; the lockdowns ultimately illuminated a certain pathos to deep-seeded beings, aside from the emotional wallop.
When the world shifted and myriad of roads closed, in the end, we are still the architect of our own destiny. To find a semblance of meaning during the marring circumstance and I romanticize that idea and anchored it to my ongoing quest to find my purpose in life. This moment in time is the perfect period to exemplify that idea, to tune finely one’s self and our very existence against an intricate world. Delusions of grandeur are unwelcome in a reality wherein people are dying from a complex disease, the pandemic brought about grounding that notion, as I no longer cradle a life that I am not proud of.
Life seems ethereal, not merely the last refuge of rebels, but rather a multifaceted and interwoven narrative. The pandemic is more than a revelation for me; it is a thoughtful reveal of my life’s different archetypes.
A soulful, emotional journey of who I am, my spirituality, and visceral relationships. Isolation became purposeful as an introvert with the occasional pint of extrovertist.
When the times have become extraordinary in nature, you have to be more than conventional. You have to aim for transcendence, a timely and needed change on the inside and stop worrying what is external and beyond your reach. The pandemic is far from a showstopper. It is an awakening. A call to dispel stagnancy and accelerate inner growth that technology, ironically has halted. Exploring the universe is ongoing but we have to stay grounded as chart our own course here on Earth. After a catastrophe, there is transition. A shift in paradox that exemplifies whether we have learned or digress. The virus is tenacious but the human heart is enduring.
This will be our lifelong obsession for decades to come, despite all the techno-social innovations, our humanity will always be attacked and questioned. Compelled to answer every step of the way and rightfully so. Why? Because we have to earn it.
The paramount issue is we ceased believing that beauty is earned, not simply given.
The splendor of life, the dynamics of our relationships, and the love for thyself, are constant work in progress. A never-ending battle between our better angels and inner demons.
Centuries of war and death has proven this. The echoes and screams for help across the globe, mostly unheard and rarely amplified. We fantasize a melodramatic tale of love and hope, glory and defeat, and understanding amidst the pain of it all.
In the end, the pandemic is about empathy. It has always been about our capacity to have compassion.
To reach infinitely for the stars while staying grounded to our humanity. As modest and intricate of an idea that is.
Yet, it will take an invisible antagonist to wake us up. Merely a single soul, one’s self, is enough. It must be enough, or we risk suffering a modern Shakespearean tragedy, as we solely stare at the pale moonlight.