About Time and the Plague

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí (1931). Source: Public Domain

Yesterday was my twenty-sixth birthday. It has been a little over fourteen months since the Covid-19 outbreak reached Mexico. Fourteen months since secluding myself in a quarantine that eventually turned into a prolonged -some might even say overextended- self-isolation; halfway between a genuine safety concern and pure paranoia. It is until now that I have started to come back to “normality” little by little. I get out of my house, eat at some restaurants, and even drink a couple of beers with those friends I hadn’t seen since March of last year. Nevertheless, I’m hunted by the fear of getting infected at any moment and, even worse, of becoming a vector that could bring the disease to those I care the most about. This epidemic has brought back the forgotten realization that we are mortal and fragile beings; that there is still uncertainty in this system we trust and live in.

Who knows how long it will take to leave this vulnerable feeling behind. It may happen sooner than expected. I look around and see that most people live their lives like nothing ever happened. Deep down I don’t even feel these last fourteen months locked in my house, prisoner to an infinite routine, ever occurred. More than a year has gone by in a blink of an eye and that is exactly what I am most afraid of: the transience of time. The transitory nature in which months and years slip away between our fingers like a low-density liquid.

I remember the conversation I had with my brother-in-law, Arturo, a few weeks ago (months perhaps?): “Yesterday I was twenty-two years old. I was finishing my bachelor’s degree and had the whole world right in front of me ready to be taken. Today, suddenly, I am in my forties and already got three kids. I will wake up tomorrow and find out that I’m already sixty. In what moment did all this time pass?”

Life is an endurance race where all of us will cross the finishing line sooner or later. Of course, one wants to take all the time in the world before that. The difference between a real race and life is that, in the latter, the first miles always feel the longest. As we keep moving, however, we get familiarized with the rules of the race (life) and the miles become shorter and shorter. Around the 20th mile (out of a total of 80 or 90) we cannot even tell our pace. In the end, we only realize how much we have advanced until we are about to cross the finishing line or when we go through moments of extreme joy or sadness that make us stop to take a breath.

When I think about all of those who went on with their lives as if nothing ever happened since the beginning of the pandemic I wonder if I took the right decision by letting these fourteen months slip through my fingers. I tell myself that I did. Otherwise, I fall into a spiral of sadness and the frustration of the lost time and those experiences I didn’t live.

These fourteen months are nothing more than an echo of the type of life, the type of race, I don’t want to live. An existence where I’m just a passenger to life’s circumstances rather than the navigator with his hands on the helm. A journey where one is resigned to observe the process rather than to actually live it. Thus, how can we slow down our pace? What can we do to feel and enjoy every moment?

Written on May 28th of 2021.

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Student, Traveler, Engineer. I travel to live longer. Check out my stories here or in my book: https://www.amazon.com/Memorias-del-Este-Notas-Viaje/dp/B08GVCN38

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Pablo Tovar

Pablo Tovar

Student, Traveler, Engineer. I travel to live longer. Check out my stories here or in my book: https://www.amazon.com/Memorias-del-Este-Notas-Viaje/dp/B08GVCN38

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