What’s humbling about life is that you never know what comes next. We can make predictions, but no one truly knows what the future will bring. The crisis we’re facing now makes this clear — there is no set date for the world to return to “normal.” As we wait for the outside world to welcome us again, we remain isolated from each other in our homes.
Personally, not being out and about in the city that never sleeps feels unfamiliar, but it is also making me deeply reflect and recognize our relationship to one another. Now more than ever, I feel the void of not being able to hear different voices on a daily basis. I am no longer able to commute by bus to our Queens campus, attend student-led events or talk to fellow Johnnies, and I can’t admire the trees on the Great Lawn as I exit St. John Hall. In addition to feeling the effects of this pandemic as a student, it has truly altered my perspective of the world as an individual.
As human beings, we’re so used to interacting with one another and doing things to further our lives without interruption. This is especially true in a country like America, where we feel safe enough to leave our homes with an arguably lesser number of fears compared to anywhere else. Like many people living in New York, I have family overseas that I am concerned about. But I am able to find ease from this concern when my mom calls them and asks them if they are safe in Bangladesh. With this daily exchange, our family, while physically separated, is joined together in a way that makes us feel whole.
Our voices still reach each other while our bodies cannot.
With the pandemic stopping us from what we thrive on — social interaction — it is making us question what we do while confined to our homes. With technology, a lot of us are able to collect those emotions in many forms and communicate with our loved ones without having to be in direct physical contact with them — something that is so pure, but also dangerous in this situation. This also made me realize how it must have been in the past when people had to deal with disease outbreaks. It made me realize how terrifying it must have been not knowing if your friends or family members were okay. It made me think of how painful it must have been not being able to hear voices that they were accustomed to for days, weeks, months or even years. It made me realize how much patience it would have taken for me to endure what people had to go through centuries ago.
It is a blessing that we, as a society, have built ways to be together even when we are apart. It is a blessing that I can laugh with my friends on FaceTime while I cope with so much change. It is a blessing to see my family members across the oceans, blurry, on a tiny screen.