Yesterday marked the 164th day of Quarantine and therefore, the 164th day of my isolation from the community. Here are a few things that I learned during my largely asymptomatic quarantine with my thoughts.
- Quarantine is the best test of friendship
Quarantine mixed with sickness and birthdays, the first being the most mundane and the second most traditional, yet both are looked at as ritualistic reminders of the human experience. Both come uninvited but show you who your true friends are. Sickness is arbitrary and if you’re young, acute. Today’s medication and privilege has made health an afterthought and calling to check up on a healing friend, redundant. Yet, a true friend doesn’t take your wellbeing for granted — they call or FaceTime, maybe receive a “Tik Tok” since that is how a lot of people show their love, but not because they’re concerned that you will not survive the virus, but because they will miss you if you don’t. Birthdays have been a source of much anticipation mixed with pessimism for me over the years, coming down to a final doomsday generalization: Birthdays are more for the guests of the event than they are for the personified pretext of the celebration. Birthdays serve to make the friends of the birthday individual feel like they are good friends to that person through the effort they exert towards making that person feel special on “their” special day. Quarantine made me see another side to birthdays when the only thing I, or someone else could think to do to express my/their gratitude towards that person that is so close to you during isolation is buy them a gift. Somehow I know that without the pretext of an arbitrary date, a material expression of my thanks will make my friend uncomfortable. Thus, birthday became a medium for reciprocity as apposed to food for the ego
- Life can be put on pause
We don’t “go” through life, we sprint. As C.S. Lewis has said; “Day by day, it feels like nothing changes, but when you look back everything is different”. On a trail riding your bike going 9.6 mph (ca. 15.5 km/h), The idea of pulling over to the side of the trail for a breath sounds unfathomable at best, dangerous at worst. Cyclists speeding by, who knows what you might miss? God forbid the man speeding by gets finished before you and enjoys the pleasure of a Starbucks drink before you do. I feel like I have spent these 164 days on the edge of that trail, pausing movies that I need to take a break from, putting my book down when I can’t remember the sentence I just read before, turning off my phone when I could feel my anxieties getting the best of me, and staring into a blank space wondering if I always had that scar on my left ankle. I can reassure you that nothing has changed while being in isolation. Sure, some cyclists have passed me, but plenty more are on the road now going the same speed as me, many of them with half the rest.
- Life’s simple pleasures are your five senses
From my largely asymptomatic, first-world experience with quarantine, I will always remember the days that I could not enjoy the simple pleasures in life. Who would have thought that the most exploring I would do during these 164 days would be using a miracle berry, nervously laughing as I ate an onion like I would an apple. I realized how much pleasure I derived from these little senses, I became used to the smells of my books. “Fresh” air started to not feel any different from air-conditioned air. Washing my hair started to not feel as refreshing even after a workout. We take the color in the world for granted, and I can’t blame us for it. After sitting inside for almost half a year, it is so ingrained in our conceptualization of our surroundings. This becomes a simple revelation of the irreplaceable pleasure that we extract from the most basic mechanisms of our bodies. All the tools that helps us love, enjoy, learn, remember, appreciate, and connect, are within us. (Very few things ever get their way).
- When all you can do is read or watch TV, it doesn’t feel the same
How many times have I wished before these “crazy, unpredicted times” had I wished that I could disappear into a cabin for two weeks with nothing but my books and DVDs? I won’t lie, when quarantine started, I made a list of movies and books because of my overexcitement of laziness that was about to happen. By week four, making it half way through the series of Sex and the City and down two books, I couldn’t focus on the series, not laughing anymore when there was a part that I would have found hilarious a couple of months before, or being able to remember the ending of the book I had just completed. I quickly learned that a large part of what makes “spoiling yourself ” so indulging is that it is spoiling. In other words, the limits of the “no’s” allow for the pleasures of the “yes”. Having to make time for something/someone you care about, which by definition is available in limited supply, is what makes them worth making time for. Perhaps we don’t give up freedom for greater freedom, but rather, we give up freedom for grater enjoyment of that freedom.