Things have just started to normalize, a bit. At this point, I cannot help but look back at the time that blew past right in front of our eyes. There have been things that have changed, which will never be the same (college life). On the other hand, there are some things we thought would never remain the same, but here they are (traffic jams).
All the while, I've got the chance to be idle enough to observe the difference in moods of my family, my close friends and me throughout the last 18 months or so that we've been facing this pandemic.
This visualization seems to be approximately true, at least for me. Of course, it's very abstract and subjective, and definitely not to scale.
H ⇒ Feeling of happiness/well-being, plotted alongside the number of cases in India.
I still remember bottoming out at the peak of the second wave. Even though I felt resilient enough to handle the incoming rough times, they were, in all certainty, very rough. For the two weeks, we had a placard placed at our doorway when we were quarantined, I felt a strange sense of hollowness. As though tuning in to the latest news became a punishment. As though I was riding on a sinking ship but I had no clue whether the ship is actually going to sink.
We had these emotional double standards — where on one hand we felt as though we were born in the best of times because of the progress we've made while handling crises, we cursed ourselves for having witnessed so much. The days ahead felt bleak, helpless. We felt powerless when the entire system was being thrown around by the forces of nature, and people's loss of character and ultimate domination of their primitive reactions.
Comparing that with the situation of today, it's a different ball game. People are slowly recovering from the shock of losing many people, others are getting vaccinated and working hard towards a more certain future. The authorities seem to get their foothold once again on the things they assert their power. But as with all catastrophes, there are some very interesting observations.
First, it's funny how sentiments of people wildly fluctuate with few changing variables. In this case, it was probably the number of daily active cases in the country. I'm not moving about like normal times, but seeing the number of cases finally dipping soothes me to the core. It's important to understand it's not the end of all troubles, and most probably we're overestimating the time when things will get to "the new normal." But tell this to my "fast brain"/"emotional brain" and not my "slow brain"/"logical brain"; it walks to the tune of its own beat. It doesn't understand long-term thinking.
Another interesting nuance about people's behaviour is their short-sightedness. We only observe derivatives/changes in our behaviour and assume that to be a value on some absolute scale. We just didn't realize, before it happened, that we'd lose out on so many "ordinary" experiences, and how we'd crave to get them back — commutes to work, children playing outside, meeting that unremarkable friend at an unremarkable location doing unremarkable things.
Now that I see people on TV celebrating in full vigour for their favourite teams in their favourite sport's stadiums, I realized how badly I missed those hordes of strangers I'd never even get to meet.
Again, we must not forget that it's not the end. That there are some agencies and establishments that demand a full-fledged overhaul. Our investment in medical facilities, our understanding of mental health, the layouts of urban areas, the power of the internet, our career considerations, our lifestyle choices, our awareness of the significance of life itself — everything needs to be reworked for the new normal.
And funnily, just when we begin to think that things won't ever be normal again, we will get back to normalcy. Life, in a way, will always suck. Life, in a way, will always be an adventure, a game waiting to be played.
I've been running around this train of thought for quite some time and it hardly ever fails to excite me.