April 6, 2021 Covid
Of course I was going to write about the one-year anniversary of my first entry to the covid journal. It practically writes itself: The misgivings I had about even starting, figuring that this thing would be over before we even knew it. The meaninglessness of the case numbers I used to anxiously look at, which have risen 352-fold since I started keeping track. How my fear gave way to resignation, then indignation, and now increasingly to powerlessness as Germany fumbles its response to the virus. How the crisis has stretched on for so long that the “before times” have blended right into the present, and how I no longer differentiate the two, living through an ongoing nowness instead.
But the truth is that when the time came to write; when I had the opportunity to spell out “Day 365”, I didn’t feel like it, much of how I don’t feel like doing much lately, overwhelmed, curiously, not by too much but by too little going on.
It’s not just my perception that has changed in the crisis. A collection of stories in Die Zeit investigated the paradoxical ways people have been experiencing time lately. Days, weeks, and months seem to last forever but barely register in retrospect. The authors posit that a lack of excitement messes with our perception of time: If there’s too little going on, we lack memorable events to construct a timeframe. It becomes increasingly difficult to tell if something happened a few weeks or months ago.
What I’ve been noticing is how this suspended life has worn down my sense of a crisis: Gone is the alertness I felt a year ago, that palpable feeling of living through history. It has been replaced by a banality of sorts, an innocuous routine of going from day to day, slowly losing my sense of excitement for any kind of activity. My ability to concentrate is waning, my levels of distraction are high, and the life I had before covid seems increasingly exhausting.
So here we are: One year since I started writing about this thing, another cold day with snowflakes dancing outside, my mind scattered, and inertia creeping in. It’s a curious time to live through.