By: Barbara Kang
14 March 2020
As Chris D’Elia once said in his Congratulations podcast, “Life Rips.” Chicago Tribune‘s Zach Freeman reviews the comedian, “It’s here that his dilemma — and perhaps the dilemma of all young people transitioning into true adulthood — becomes clearer: How do we hold on to the wonderment and magic of childhood while also embracing the burden of being a responsible adult (or even a functioning one)? How much of our true selves do we have to give up (or, conversely, accept) to cross that line?” These questions proposed by Freeman alongside the COVID-19 pandemic that is instigating unsettling fear and reevaluation of the present amongst our population — has brought me to my knees with overwhelming recognition of the fragility of life. COVID-19 dominating media coverage has disrupted everyday life. Beginning with the news of Boston University’s tentative reopen in late April to my district manager informing us of a two weeks of paid leave, there has been a looming sense of agitation due to the increasing uncertainty in the future.
But, the future has always been part of the unknown. The increased fear originates from the fact that our routines (since “routines” temporarily provide us with the false sense of having control by following a fixed system set up by society) are unfixed. I empathize with D’Elia’s dilemma, since I feel the pressure to adapt in this current global commotion. I cope by sharing my dark humor by pointing out the most shallow and trivial aspects of the influence that this COVID-19 holds.
Due to potential travel bans, I forfeited a trip to Paris that had been planned for months prior to COVID-19 spreading across Europe. The news of Boston University temporarily closing did not cause joy, rather, annoyance from my friends as it was our last semester of University together. Being hosted by my dear friend, Isa Elwaw, who lives in Islands of Cocoplum, FL, I remember her mother, a BU alum, had been voicing her concerns over the toilet paper crisis. At the time, I snorted in disbelief. Mrs. Elwaw said, “If you guys plan on throwing a party, it’s BYOTP not BYOB.” All the while, I had been bantering with her father (who aptly works for Morgan Stanley) the likelihood that COVID-19 would trigger a recession. Even then, I was not a first-hand witness to the mayhem COVID-19 was causing back in Beantown.
When I returned to home-base, immediately, I felt like a sheep for racing to Star Market, Trader Joe’s, Target and Whole Foods to attempt to find toilet paper and frozen produce…to ensure I will be eating a balanced diet and wiping myself clean for the next few weeks. Grocery stores had empty freezers and deserted aisles similar to scenes from World War Z . I was complaining about the absurdity that I could not find a single pack of chicken breasts and zucchini. In that moment, an old woman in her 70s nodded at me with a crooked smile agreeing to each word shooting out of my mouth.
Last year, activist and Chilean artist, Sebastian Errazuriz presented a public installation in the middle of bustling Manhattan. blu Marble, was to serve as “a reminder of our miraculously fragile existence. It places our very existence in perspective at a global level – as a tiny spec in space – beckoning us to live fully with an awareness and mindfulness of our limited time on this vulnerable and beautiful planet,” Errazuriz said.
Now, what to do?