Living in a pandemic: Longing, the word, the feeling

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And now I understand something so frightening &wonderful-

how the mind clings to the road it knows,
rushing through crossroads, sticking

like lint to the familiar.”― Mary Oliver

Last week I heard it for the first time- my daughter reminiscing her recent pasts- “Remember when I used to go to school, you used to make smoothies?”

“Remember we had chocolate ice-cream before going to ocean to see sunset?”

“Remember my best friend also lives in California?”

“Remember my teacher had this book in our classroom?”

Not so long ago, when the world was normal, there was no difference between her memory worthy past and the happening present. Just three months in a different life setup, she longs for things that I cannot recreate right now, experiences that most probably will not be same in a post-Covid19 world, no matter how brave we aspire to be.

Walking down the memory lane seemed like a lost hope for me, especially after entering my thirties. A place we cannot return to is most probably also a place we can never arrive. It seems like we are always traveling, and never arriving. We are carrying it like a burden, just to glance back, when the motion forward also creates little bit of motion sickness.

Mal du pays, as french call it- homesickness, longing for familiar places. Can you long for home when you are home all the time? I don’t remember we have ever been so static, days and months in one place, living groundhog days carefully.

I wanted to write about this feeling a month ago. But then too many things were happening everyday, that our pain felt like the weakest first world pain. There were images from my home country, battling against Covid, mothers dying leaving their children longing for love, fathers carrying children on shoulder walking a thousand miles to reach home, a girl biking miles to take her sick father to hospital, finest people dying untimely, poorer people on choices to make between dying out of hunger and getting infected by breaking rules. Too many things to make the heart wander. Yet I had to keep it boxed and save the words for today.

I always associated longing to the ache of missing home. But then this pandemic made me wonder how I can long for outside too, while being home. The longing for a normal world where children can play freely, and people can work hard to make life safe. The longing for mountains, and sitting there worshiping its patience, age, and wisdom. The longing for dipping my feet in cold Pacific water, and looking out to broaden the horizon. The longing for known hugs, shared stories, and loud laughters that machines cannot create.

They say, “We are homesick most for the places we have never known.” I say, I am homesick for the world that was home for all, equally for all. A world where we could dream and roam freely, without anxiety, fear, and despair. Because where we are right now, is not the amicable present.

“it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.” 
― Mary Oliver,

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “Living in a pandemic: Longing, the word, the feeling

  1. I just read this at the end of November, and think it is beautiful. Still true. Here we are, still isolated, still craving eye-to-eye contact, wanting to just sit around friends or co-workers and just chat, or spend the afternoon at the mall with someone, just wandering in and out of stores as whim takes us. But we can’t. And we find ourselves remembering and cherishing days of yore. Remembering the innocent times. The free times. All I can say is make beautiful memories EVERY day. Call someone. Bake some cookies. Text and laugh about the good old days. We will make it through this, and we will be stronger — and more creative — from it.

  2. Beautifully worded. The world will probably never be the same again. Even normal will be a new normal. I can relate to yearning to go to places that I can’t travel to.

  3. Beautifully stated. We are canaries in gilded or filthy cages, depending on factors we never controlled; though our illusions were so powerful we actually believed we did.

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