‘It’s time to get back on the road.‘ A simple message sent by a friend on WhatsApp. After four months of living in lockdown, someone has decided that it’s time to ‘get back on the road’. The virus is still ‘out there’, whether it is on the road, in public spaces, or in entertainment spaces but we are meant to get back ‘on the road’.
As lockdown lifts, the once familiar world may look the same but there are unseen dangers still. To be fearful of the virus was once considered sensible but, people look at me when I walk out wearing a mask. Fear is now regarded as ‘pansy’ material.
I went for my first walk two weeks ago that took me beyond the normal confines of my daily stroll. I felt like an intrepid traveler. It’s the colours of life which I have missed in lockdown. By this, I mean the bright colours of Spring and Summer in parks AND the colour of life as a metaphorical description which manifests itself through a certain Spring and Summer centric hustle and bustle of human life.
During my two hour stroll, there was a certain greyness despite the colourful foliage. I experienced an inner and outer existential dilemma. People were out in the park but in far less numbers. People were in shops but only a few were allowed in at a time. There was an intangible fear. People were careful not to walk too close to each other. I crossed roads to avoid oncoming groups of people. There is no visible enemy but we are living by the rules of an unseen enemy, the virus.
Whether we like it or not, the rules of life have changed. It may have changed in varying degrees in a subjective way but it has changed. The state has passed the risk of caring for ourselves onto us as individuals. We are making decisions all the time as to what is and isn’t safe. According to an article in The Atlantic, ‘Pandemic decision making implicates at least two complex cognitive tasks: moral reasoning and risk evaluation’.
The meaning of life is part of our decision making because every time we decide whether to go out or not, we are taking a risk-based decision about our lives. Somewhere in that risk-based decision making, we are incorporating the meaning of life and what this meaning holds for us. I suspect that no clarity will emerge till the virus has completely passed. Till then, the world is a funny tint.