"There was a time..."
Must we resign ourselves to this misery, or is there a new novel to be written?
It's been almost a year now, for many of us... torn between our duty to the planet, to humanity, to life itself, and our own selfish needs, legitimate as they are. We stay home when we can. We mask up. We educate. We advocate. We stay faithful to the cause and to science, striving as we may to avoid the new strains, both viral and emotional. However, we would be lying if we said this wasn't tearing us all up from the inside out. It would be dishonest to claim that we spend all of our time focusing on what we do have instead of what we've lost. We don the masks with no outward complaint, and we smile with our eyes when society prompts us to do so... but underneath the fabric lies a grim, pallid stripe. It is a line in the sand between what once was and what now is.
At first, we welcomed a short pause, thinking it just that. Soon after, we burrowed in for the winter, waiting for the new life of spring, hoping to emerge that much stronger come summertime. Spring came, and more death along with it. The war on reality raged on, counting its casualties in hellish delight. Some were human, others not, but all were mourned. All are mourned still. Months later, here, in the land of abundance, in the time of plenty, we find ourselves stumbling through a rude awakening. What much of the world already knew, we are now just beginning to fathom. Pain is real. Suffering is real. Evil is real.
In an almost laughable twist, we continue on with the mundane; we who are fortunate enough continue to pay the bills, to go to work, to continue living as best we can, feigning momentary blindness to the smoke rising around us. What else can we do? Humanity is broken, but it always has been. Suffering is not new, only new to us.
There was a time... when the future held a plan, and it wasn't bleak, and it all made sense. There was a time... when what I spent time on was what I enjoyed, and what I did I believed in, and what I accomplished I took pride in. There was a time... when my kids knew their cousins, and they didn't miss their uncles, and they hugged their loved ones. There was a time....
Silent as we may remain behind the masks, many of us have spent the past several months with our heads turned back over our shoulders, gazing with nostalgia at what used to be. The delusional among us anxiously awaited the arrival of a new era with the closing of 2020, but that was not to be. They were astonished to learn that the sudden completion of a revolution of a rock around a star meant very little to an army of contagion.
Even so, I feel compelled to ask: must we continue to dwell on the past, or is the time to look forward upon us? Are we doomed to remain in this limbo forever, mourning the past and dreading the future, or is there something else, some other way to survive, to-- dare I say it?-- thrive? After all, are there not stories with tones less dire? Are there not those depending on us to sweep up the shards of our broken dreams and keep going?
It's true; this war set fire to many an avenue to happiness. However, the most detrimental action to take would be to assume that, in our melancholy, true joy could not be attained in a different place, at a different time.
There was a time... and there will be a time again.