Sometimes luck falls into our lap as suddenly as a raindrop on a 65-and-sunny kind of day. Sometimes life happenings creep in slow enough for us to recognize and process that they’re coming. COVID-19 however, tumbled into most of our lives, quite clumsily. We watched it grow at a distance, denying that it would ever get too close for comfort. Why was that? Are we as Americans that naive? Was it ignorance? Perhaps it was our go, go, go attitude (the one that we’ve convinced ourselves almost unanimously as a society that we need to have) that pushed it to the back of our minds. After all, we always have something more important- more immediate to think about.
Now, inside the walls of our own homes, we are faced with the challenge of recognizing what really matters. When we are stripped of our luxuries, stripped of our 9-to-5s, our au pair’s and our Charmin Ultra-Soft toilet paper, we find we are looking at the barest, most simple forms of ourselves, and it is quite uncomfortable.
It forces us to ask ourselves, is how we spend our days really living, or are we just distracting ourselves from doing so?
Under a sky full of stars, do we look up and appreciate what they offer us, or are we quick to turn a light on in the uncertainty of such a loud silence?
Such an unpredictable event as this one can leave us- and it will leave us- one of two ways:
1. We will no longer shake hands in church. We will destroy the germy, plastic park playgrounds. We will keep the 6 ft apart stickers, stuck to the floors of the grocery stores. We will never leave the house without disinfectant.
2. We will hug our families tighter, we will constantly thank our teachers, we will continue our crafts, practicing our instruments and reading the books we picked up in quarantine.
I encourage the second. No one in this world needs more of a reason to stand farther apart from one another. Our immune systems will continue to fight whether we want them to or not. Our hearts, on the other hand, will only listen to our conscious selves.
Toni-ann Mattera is a writer living in California.