- Arwen Singh
A New Chapter: The Pandemic
Updated: Jun 15, 2022
I was never much of a history person in school. Maybe if we learned about something other than wars and the old men who started them, things might have been different, but, alas. In school, I have found the study of Greek and Roman Empires fascinating! Polytheistic mythologies with diverse pantheons, myths that wove tapestries of lust and passion, rage and grief; it was everything I wanted as an avid reader and obsessive daydreamer. I often used to wonder, what would it be like to live through something worthy of a chapter in history books? Fat chance of that happening, am I right? Ha.
Upon the declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, my perception of living history had been a dramatic feature of a ‘round the clock disaster, spiced with a dash of mortal peril and unresolved fear. However, the closest thing I experienced to mortal peril was running out of instant yeast and Netflix shows; unlike the trials of a first century plebeian. While in isolation, I found that people did not exactly cower in a corner in the face of challenge, but chose the opposite. Many still went to the grocery store for Cheerios or rice, perhaps even stopped by Starbucks for caramel lattes on the way home. We still celebrated birthdays and anniversaries with loved ones, even it was through a digital screen. It turns out, we are an adaptive species after all. This “nanosecond” of history has introduced the possibility of an innovative future. However, is there a price to pay?
Personally, the early days of the pandemic were a “less than mediocre” experience. After a few weeks, the novelty of staying home wore off, leaving behind a handful of problems. Around me were death toll reports, social justice distress, and I desperately needed a break from school. In the heat of overwhelming circumstances, I just became quiet. Just quiet.
If anything, the thinnest of silver lining in these “trying times” was that my peers and I are now excused of learning about COVID-19 in history class. I pray – as best an atheist can –- for those who will have to write about the pandemic, and that they offer insight to future generations.
Despite the astonishing chaos and confusion that embodies the virus, I have learned important lessons. Besides the various skills I picked up during this time, such as boxing, crocheting, French, and cleverly exiting the room right before conflict, I have also learned that there is always something worth living for. It doesn’t have to be big. It just needs to be true.
As of today, I aim to be actively present In fact, I have this little fantasy that I have been quietly adding to; a romanticism of my future. It includes living in vibrant colors for as long as I can, because I know that one day, I will fade into obscurity. The pandemic has offered gifts of realization and reflection to me, and I know that everyone who has lived or died in these last few years will be immortalized by our living history. Future teenagers will learn from our lives, and wonder what it was like to live during a global pandemic. I’ll leave a note for that: it was boring and terrifying, everyone made bread, and a lot of people died. However, it was a pivotal moment in which the strength and unity of the modern world was brought into question, and ultimately, we survived.