Recently, I finished re-reading one of my favorite books: Another Country by James Baldwin. It's probably the third time I've read it, each time bringing something new. This reading, however, a line struck me harder than anticipated:
"If you can get through the worst, you'll see the best."
This line has been racing through my mind. Mainly, about how I have been approaching this pandemic. Like millions of others, my life has been put in a whirlpool since the pandemic hit. My hours were cut, I wasn't sure if I was going to make enough for rent, etc. Depression hit like a tsunami, leaving nothing but devastation in its wake. As I was being swept away, I was grasping for anything I could get hold of. Thankfully, I was able to grab onto the roots of my sanity and pull myself free from the wreckage.
But it made me think of those that aren't so lucky. Not only is this a time of uncertainty, but it's a time of great depression and anxiety. What was supposed to be "fourteen days and we're back to normal" has dragged its feet to eight months, with no end in sight. This pandemic has made me realize lots of things, primarily: the importance of a financial safety net, the importance of checking in on your loved ones, and the importance of living.
The first, a financial safety net, was the last thing that I thought of. Its importance was always stressed to me, but I must have skipped that day in school where it was taught. Or, it simply wasn't taught at all. That's the downfall of American schools: they think they are preparing you for the "real world" but don't teach you about balancing a checkbook. They don't teach you what it means to create wealth. Imagine if we were all taught how to create wealth and what this world would be like if we did. I fear that this is something that will be lost on the younger generations. Instead, they see what they can do for a quick fifteen minutes of fame on TikTok (if that's even still around by the time I post this blog) and the money it could bring them if they're successful. I fear that instead of creating a generation that is able to create wealth for themselves, they will become zombies to their phones. Lost in the abyss of likes and follows instead of swimming to a land filled with prosperity.
But who am I to judge? As I type this on my computer, for you, reading this on your computer or phone. Am I contributing to the mind-numbing behavior that I am fearful of? What does that say about me?
The second, checking in on your loved ones, has never been more important than now. While I have not been personally affected by COVID, many around the world have. Many doing everything possible to avoid the virus, only to find themselves alone, in a sterile ICU unit, each breath being provided for by a tube. Or worse: the beeping of a life support machine the only indication a doctor, protected by a suit, receives telling her her patient is still alive, but barely. As I type that, I pause and check my phone log to see when the last time it was that I called my parents. With them being at the age where this virus hits hardest, I try my best to limit my time around them. Have I seen them, yes, but with precaution leading up to and following my visits with them. Californians are lucky, where COVID tests are available to those that want and need one, without cost. Not everybody is so fortunate.
Last: life. Life is more than just if you make it to the next day. It's also about how you're filling those days. Are you like me? Where the depression sits on your chest, weighing you down deeper into the couch where it's almost impossible to get out? Thank God I don't have to do this alone; that there is someone with me in my small four-hundred square foot apartment in Los Angeles. But when he pulls me out of my well of depression, there are times where he takes my place and falls into his own well of anxiety and depression.
We have made it so we allow ourselves to be in these pits of despair, but only for a moment. And NEVER at the same time. We have created a plan: every day, we have to do something that makes us happy. We have to go outside, as much as we may not want to, and spend even a short while amidst the sunshine and (wearing a mask) the fresh air. We have to write something, or dance in the living-room, or even go for a drive along the coast. Anything that makes us realize that there is a world behind these walls that we find ourselves in.
It's scary, I'm not going to deny that. It's okay to live in the fear of the unknown. Fearing something, anything, is how we know that we're still human.
Title: Pretty Little Fears
Artist: 6lack featuring J. Cole
Year Released: 2018
Cover Art: Go Figure (acrylic on wood) by Chadwick (IG: @theartofchadwick)