“To live under constraint is a misfortune, but there is no constraint to live under constraint.”
Quarantine has been a collective experiment in subtractive living. Removing social obligations, the commute, and for many of us, work itself, ought to have vastly reduced the amount of noise to which we’re each subjected.
Perhaps this experience has fostered personal reflection on a national scale, affording individuals outside of necessary industries the opportunity to assess their lives, their priorities, their understanding of the ordinary.
It would be arrogant of me to surmise what the societal result of such reflection might be, but I’m sure we won’t be returning to the lives we considered normal pre-quarantine. For me, this is a hopeful and exciting thought. Just as the human body benefits from acute stress via a process called hormesis, society ought to benefit from an acute reduction in day-to-day noise.
That is, of course, depending upon how individuals decide to manage their exposures during this time. With respect to the negative effects, heavy exposure to social media and news is a comparable substitute to pre-quarantine noise, crowding out the signal in one’s life.
If, on the other hand, my own experiences and those of the people closest to me are indicative of larger trends, then the past few weeks have had a similar effect as tilling hard, compacted soil. While the normal day-to-day solidifies habits, preventing and forestalling growth, quarantine has upset the boundaries we ordinarily take for granted, allowing fresh seeds to take root.
I’m hopeful that your experience has been similar. I’m hopeful that vast and personal opportunities, ordinarily buried under the avalanche of daily extrapolation, have been exposed to you, bare in their truth and promise.
Tomorrow is as bright as you make it, and pessimism is its own punishment. Alert and present, you are poised to make good on the promise of change.