This whole coronavirus pandemic has affected thousands of lives. For people around the globe, it has become normal to hear death toll rising every day. If there’s anything I’m immune to by now, that’s immunity to the news, to disappointments.
It’s both a privilege and a curse to be locked down at home. Privilege because I get to eat food more than three times a day, drink clean water, sleep in comfort, have access to media; curse because I get to live like this while others are suffering from hunger, lack of shelter, and sickness. I hold myself back from being sad about my own problems because I already feel too guilty to complain.
For 24 hours daily, I see the same walls, walk the same floor, sit on the same chair, lay on the same bed, and everyday I grow tired of my home. Work keeps me occupied, Netflix gets my attention but every night I have a sense of longing to live life again like this pandemic never happened. I have anxieties about the future, and oftentimes I feel like we’re just living to get by. Where are we all heading?
I and many others in the middle class are also struggling. We are not exempted from the fight. Everybody has their own battles, be it physical, mental, or emotional.
Five months and still going.
These times bring out our most creative selves. My parents and I got to renovate our rooms within the quarantine period and it’s something we wouldn’t have prioritized if not for the lockdown. My heart ached in many different places as I decorate my room in an attempt to brighten up my environment. I finally checked old photos — travel photos, photos of food, selfies with friends, photos taken during hangouts and social dinners. It brought me a happy kind of pain, a nostalgia.
I never thought it was possible to feel homesick for a temporary place — a place you can never call yours, a place you’ve been to only once but somehow made you connect to yourself deeper, a place that’s given you warm emotions to come home to every time you’re feeling cold and alone.
I printed a couple of photos to bring me back to the experiences I treasure the most. They are now posted on my bedroom wall. Many times I find myself staring at them, thinking how those days of being fun and young meant exploring the world and discovering how big it is. The world outside, once a big playground, is now a breeding ground of fear and paranoia.
People are dying because of the virus. I must stay at home.
Front-liners are risking their lives to save others. I must stay at home.
Hospitals have reached full capacity. I must stay at home.
Friends can be reached online anyway. I must stay at home.
I want to go to a check-up but it’s okay. I must stay at home.
My work is virtual anyway. I must stay at home.
Now my world has shrunk into a couple of rooms, some gadgets, and old furniture. I can’t wait to go out. I can’t wait to know the cultures I don’t know about. I can’t wait to see people I haven’t seen in a while and hug them and tell them I’m glad they’re okay while holding them. I can’t wait to drink coffee with friends, while the cafe’s loud music and the crowd murmuring play in the background. I can’t wait to walk under the sun and occasionally slide through the crowd while rushing to catch the bus or crossing the street.
I want to feel again that I’m in a place bigger than the container I’m in, a container that’s my house.
Nobody knows when life will return to normal again. But for now, I have memories to keep me going, I have hope to keep me believing. I can go on knowing that “there is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.” (1 Peter 1:6 NLT)
There is a purpose in all of this.
It may seem a little masochist to look at these photos while knowing that it would take months or years before I can experience such adventure again but I’m thankful. The pain makes me appreciate my life even more. It opened my eyes to see that God has allowed me to be young and carefree in my youth. Yes, these memories make me sad but only because they were good memories. And they are mine to keep forever. No matter what the world throws at me, I have laughed and danced and ran and sang when I had the chance. I regret nothing because I spared no opportunity to experience them all.
So what do I do with these memories? I’ll keep looking back at them, and have faith that God will bless me with even better experiences.
The quarantine really hits your mental and emotional health, but with God in our midst, we can be assured that things will work out for our own good (Romans 8:28). As for me, God has set in me a new task, to find wonder in a familiar place. I will still be amazed by His creation and never give up on remembering His goodness.