I Stopped Counting The Days of Quarantine And That’s When I Started To Live
Initially, I was excited to document my day-to-day thoughts and activities when this was just starting out last March. Not that I was dismissing the global pandemic; I understood what it is.
But having my own brand new company-provided laptop with internet allowance, no longer going through the daily hustle and bustle of commuting, and working at the comforts of my home — in my book, this is a good deal! It is new! It is different!
Delicately arrange your work station at home and flex it on Facebook!
Joke about how you were just wearing boxers on a video call!
Day 1 was this, day 4 was like that, day 7 was a milestone! It’s like I was on Survivor reality TV!
It was fun to do daily journaling! I was expecting that, probably after a couple of months (?) when it’s now back to normal, I get to revisit how the days went by during the community quarantine. I even used the hashtag #WFHDailyJournal on my posts to have something click-able when all of this is over. It’ll be proof of productivity during my days of lockdown!
At the onset, I was consistent with my everyday logs. But what first was just a missed day entry became two, then weeks, and then I lost track. Some days, I become preoccupied with the news headlines. Other days, I feel bad for posting something happy. Probably because, as the community quarantine progressed, things became so overwhelming for me. And I’d like to think for all of us as well, naturally. There was grief with the many things we’ve lost — jobs, savings, sense of normalcy, and lives, more importantly.
There were anger and frustration.
There was conviction to regain control and come through this triumphant.
There were lazy days.
There were happy ones.
There were spikes of productivity.
There was that sad moment of realizing one’s privileges.
But there’s also that elusive string of hope we’ve been clinging to…that this will end soon.
Things get real when an old high school batchmate who you’re not really close with will message you and ask if you can lend him some money. Then you see someone change their profile picture into black. And then you also heard about the massive layoffs of one company where a good friend works for. He’s not ranting online, so maybe he’s one of the lucky ones? But wait, can you even use that word? Because “lucky” highlights the good outcome but inevitably admitting a misfortune occurred.
I agree with what David Kessler shared in the article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief,” that this is a traumatic experience. But if funerals pre-COVID-19 already bring a difficult phase for the aggrieved families, what more for deaths in this magnitude for the global community? I had to learn how to maneuver through the confusing emotional terrain. No one is really prepared to mourn, sympathize and recover from massive losses like this.
This whole thing is a giant ball of messy tangled strings. It’s cringey for the eyes and it would be tempting to just look away. And if you can ignore it, know that your privileges allow you to turn a blind eye. But that big thing is there. The bundle of strings of emotions are all snarled up, but they are all real. People will have different ways and pace of processing things. Let them.
I stopped counting the days as if these are episodes culminating for a season finale. It’s quite vague as of the moment. Instead, I acknowledged this ugly ball of strings on my hand right now, started untangling, fondling, compartmentalizing. I identified what I can do something about from what I just have to accept as ‘what is’ for now. There’s one I managed to pull through and with that I am proud. There’s another that needs a more delicate attempt. And there are many that are just too complicated and tied up with each other; I can better unsnarl them if I work on the rest.
The days of summer vacation before school year starts.
The change you get after payment and then you go buy the next item on the list.
The number of episodes left before you get the tolerable two-hour sleep.
You count things because there is a definite end, and you can clearly picture the scenario right after.
It’s not the same case for this pandemic. It will be too messy, too emotionally-wrangling and will have many variables coming into play. It’s like an airplane crashing right in the middle of the jungle, with you included in the remaining survivors. No maps. No guides. And threats are everywhere and they come in many forms.
I believe the term “new normal,” although a truth we have to accept, sounds like an understatement. Sure, “new” suggests an anticipation of something never-before-experienced, but it still has “normal” in it, which makes it sound tolerable and harmless. It will NOT be like that. Nothing is normal in a freakin’ jungle!
It will require an overhauling of previous plans. It will expose people to the entire emotional spectrum and it unfortunately leans towards dark ones. It will demand new skills. It will require a dismantling of so many structures. The world will be facing constantly changing factors.
Stop counting the days as if a rescue team is surely underway. It may take longer than it should. Or it may never come. After processing the new environment, time to pick up the tools — any tools — or maybe make new ones. The days ahead will no longer be as comfortable, calculable and manageable as before, but we have to believe it’s survivable.
Andrew Beso is a Manila-based content creator who is exploring different ways of presenting art — whether it be written, spoken, and visualized. His work, aside from being in Medium, can also be seen on Youtube, Instagram, and Tiktok. He is currently taking up a master’s in political economy and is using creative expression in discussing social issues.