Utopia today is the reality of yesterday. As the world stands near- paralyzed by Covid-19, the common man’s life limited to basics, the givens no longer so, and the perennial now so transient, I find myself thinking of the days gone by. All that as the present was far from satisfying, today, in hindsight seems so beautiful – there was no fear, no restrictions, freedom to do everything and move about, travel, and not at any point be confined indoors. Today the home, appears to be the only safe haven, and all I can do is dream…of a utopian world.
Strange how concepts and our perspectives change. Utopia at one time meant something outlandish, far fetched and far removed from reality, with everything being picture perfect, and everyone in a happy state. Utopia is the unrealistic perfect world we yearn to see, but given the realities around us, we tend to accept the imperfections happily. The way the wheels of life on planet earth have stopped, instilling fear and uncertainty ruling on all fronts, our wanting life to go back to its old tenor has become utopia for us.
Life has been too easy for us, earning, spending, splurging, running to accomplish multiple tasks but enjoying none, since the next task was waiting. It was items ticked off a list, accountable to whom, I wonder… the goal seemed important, the journey irrelevant. Humankind was unstoppable, scaling higher and higher in terms of wealth, power, prestige, and success. To travel across the globe, see new places, savor exotic foods from diverse cuisines, share experiences, and lead parallel lives, one in the real world, and another, for the world to see – through social media. Were we enjoying the moment, the present, or were we building memories to revisit later, or perhaps creating a better image of ourselves for the world to see? All this snatched away from us, or perhaps put on hold for an extended stretch of time, is our imagined utopia now.
A tiny invisible protein has put everything on hold, or perhaps stopped indefinitely, leaving us wondering if things will ever be the same again. The fear of a potentially fatal illness had locked us up and entire nations have had to live through lockdowns to control the spread and curtail the damage of this pandemic. The pandemic might end one day, but the coronavirus seems here to stay.
Is it all dismal and all bad? The loss of life is the worst irreplaceable truth that has shaken us all and forced even the most stubborn to stop being careless and nonchalant. It has also given us time to think and ponder, for which we never seemed to have the inclination or the time previously.
And as in all difficulties, we must start from rock bottom, gradually building our way up. Looking at the basics, we have a comfortable, if not luxurious roof over our heads, money in the bank, good food to eat, a job that provides sustenance for us and ours. Yes, work from home is a dent, productivity impacted and less to do, since the pace of operations, projects and collaborations has changed, but the employers understand. If we get to keep our jobs, it’s a tremendous relief. If we lose them and other opportunities appear, that is a relief too. We miss the outings, the socializing, evenings spent in the company of friends, and the freedom to step out at any time. In place of all this, is the peace and quiet of home, the domain that did not always get our complete attention this way ever before. We now find that the home is a bottomless well of potential activities, we just need to have the patience to find them and see them through.
Life will never resume the same pace and course we left it at, three months ago. It will be different and to that extent utopian, and the new dawn will have lesser friends, fewer outings, cautiously gloved hands and masked faces, social distancing, lesser travel, and more virtual meets, virtual workspaces, and shopping binges limited to essentials.
After two months of lockdowns, and a very gradual opening up, a resigned acceptance has set in already. A tiny light peeps at us as we have started stepping out a bit, meeting a single friend, a short solitary walk…even as we dream of getting back perhaps half of the life we had, the biggest need being, the ability to reach our loved ones.
Today the world may seem plunged in dullness, uncertain about what lies ahead. But every dark spell ends with the first rays of light, and a dawn breaks…to new beginnings, new hopes and new challenges which we need to gear up to meet.