Corona Time – Youcef

Article published in The Pilgrim, Issue 6, Autumn 2020.

I find it interesting how easily our way of life can change and how quickly we
become accustomed to it, but not all of us . I find it obscure but also frightening
in the sense that an entire planet is in this state. The superpowers of the globe
all shutdown by a force that they can’t see and can’t stop with their money and
guns.
So it all started with the situation in Wuhan, China. Reports that a virus has
struck leaving the area in a state of emergency and panic, no one was allowed
to leave their homes, families losing loved ones. This all happened as we
watched from afar living our normal lives, shopping centers were bustling, pubs
full every night, people going to and fro from their workplace and homes. The
schools were open and we all were normal in our sense of normal. Unaware of
our fate that was soon to come.
The first few cases started to pop up here and there in Britain, yet we continued
to disregard it. There was one new thing though. The supermarkets were no
longer full with whatever we required as people started to panic buy in hysteria
to the situation. People that feared for their health or the health of others were
advised to stay at home and self-isolate. People that developed flu-like symptoms
were advised to self-isolate. And amidst it all, like all other people of my age I
presume were wishing for the school to be shut down. The school did shut
down, happy days right?
The whole country shut down.
So let me tell you of my experiences and give you a more micro-scale view of
this situation. After a long period of time, you get accustomed to this, you wake
up, eat whatever you eat do school work check the news, its reached a point
where those massive numbers of deaths are just that numbers, you see them
every day increasing by thousands and at the start that gave you a sense of fear,
of worry, but now your just interested to see how far it can go. Desensitised by
the whole situation. Schoolwork has become tiresome there isn’t any motivation
or fun aspect to it it just feels like you’re forced to do it. People encourage you to
do new things and try out new activities but It hasn’t been the same for me. You
reach a point where you feel this will be your life forever stuck at home like an
animal in its cage. You feel captured. The country slowly but surely dying
outside our windows and people losing loved ones by the minute has given me a
new view on life – quite morbid to say the least but I guess I should share…

Often at times most of us feel like we are going to live forever. Sure we plan our
future but we keep that mindset that we are going to be alive for that part. If
this whole pandemic has proven anything it’s that humans are not as strong as
we believe as something that can’t even see with the naked eye has brung the
world to its knees. Sent millions of people to the next life- if there is one. Boris
Johnson for example or Kim Jun Un who in his country is revered a god in its
term have both been affected. So what my point is that death is around the
corner and any day could be your last. This is probably not similar to the rest
which say “oh I’ve taken up art as a hobby for example” but this is my
experience from this lockdown and I believe the message is important.
So let me end this on a more of a positive note rather than morbid. The
fundamentals of stoicism – which is an ancient Greek philosophy- as said by
Epictetus is that “ The key to freedom and happiness is understanding one
simple principle. Some things are in our control and others are not.” It simply
means by accepting that some things are not in our control you feel relief and
not letting things out of your control change you and not to fight against what
was meant to be.
I guess you could say I found a thing for philosophy.

Youcef Azzaz

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