The Long, Terrible Summer Hiatus

Source: Trishelle Joseph/DowntoEarth

I have returned to my blog precisely after 7 months. 7 months of despairing paralysis. I have been meaning to return far earlier but to no avail. It took only this time to change the world forever. To challenge everything we believed in. And if the COVID-19 pandemic itself is not a threat enough to make us question everything, then the effect of lockdown has made me question my entire existence anyway.

Though I gained a lot as well. Started therapy consciously and highly recommend it to everyone if you can find the right fit for you. It is probably not as good as a relationship but it is important to remember that you would need therapy even if you are in one, even if it is a good one and especially if it is bad.

However, people here in Pakistan, as well as people around the world came out of lockdown by August and September. I was out of the lockdown too, but not necessarily out of a mental lockdown. Therefore, not only the reluctant to write, but to even think to put a thought together with another.

A lot has happened since the pandemic broke out. More than 50 million worldwide cases and more than 1 million deaths. A couple of relatives almost lost their lives to the pandemic, while family members of a few friends actually did. The world economy went into a depression and more people were pushed into poverty than at any time in recent years. The entire global trade is in chaos. And I almost lost my job too, which would have been a small casualty in comparison.

Two idiotic Pakistani public figures echoed Chinese conspiracy theories about COVID-19. Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed, with potentially disastrous consequences to American democracy. A US Presidential election occurred to potentially world-changing consequences. And Sean Connery died too, something which I have not been able to process because I thought he would never die.

At this point in time, I don’t what to make of the world or of my life. I don’t know what to make of the future. And as much as I would like to state otherwise, I can’t be too sure of where I will be or where I see myself about ten years from now. But now that I look back, I wonder if things were really like that before the pandemic.

Perhaps the pandemic has only lifted the fog of our illusions.

Why This Kind of Self-Isolation Feels So Sick

Source; “Isolation” by Trinity Jackson

We are in lockdown. I would not call it a self-quarantine because it would be incorrect to say so. But I have not gone out of my home since March 15, more or less.

I am not a stranger to self-isolation like so many in my generation. I have been social distancing all my life, never being thrilled in the company of people I don’t trust. But it doesn’t always have anything to do with other people. It’s a state of mind.

In the fall and late winter of 2016, I confined myself to my home for six months on a diet of mostly coffee and roasted corn and binge-watching every World War II movie made under the Sun. It was a state of mind too. It didn’t lead to too many nice things, but I recall that pleasurable experience fondly. Every pleasure must end in pain, though.

Now, here we are. Locked up in self-isolation, if not “self-quarantine.’ The coronavirus pandemic is here. The apocalypse everyone couldn’t stop talking about is here.

This is not normal and this is not voluntary. Most of all, this is not enjoyable, even if a part of you is enjoying it.

But the economy is crashing, perhaps like never before since the Great Depression. You are supposed to be productive in this self-isolation.

How can you? You can barely remain sane,

And the disease has not knocked on your door, yet. While the others have not been so lucky. Who is to say if you are going to be immune to this misery, whether your neighborhood catches the virus or not. The disease is all-pervasive. Like God. It is almost God who is here to kill humanity.

It is our shared misery, that binds us in the bond of humanity.

How could you possibly enjoy it?

You are stressed. You are fatigued. You are shut down.

What are we supposed to do? Pretend that the pandemic crisis is not there? Pretend that you are free to go out and meet people anytime you can? Pretend to eat anything you can? Do anything you want?

But that’s not the worst of it.

How are you to pretend that the people around you are not at serious risk of falling ill and dying?

How are you to pretend that you are not going to be the next victim of the virus? Because you can do only so much to prevent getting infected.

We are all infected.

We are all out of touch.