Present tense: The coronavirus lockdown has taught us to live our lives, not just plan to live them

Like many, if not most, people i didn’t live my life so much as i planned on living it. I was always busy making plans about what i was going to do.

Short term plans, like which place to go eat out on the coming weekend. Medium term plans, like where to go for the summer holiday. Long term plans, like what new investment to make when an old investment matured next year.

I was like a traveller whose eyes are fixed on the distant horizon ahead, and who is oblivious of his immediate surroundings, the ground underfoot, the gritty rasp of concrete, or the smooth spring of grass, the roar of city traffic around me or the singing silence of open spaces, the urban jostle of steel and glass or the murmurous green of wind-sighing trees.

If i noticed all this, it was through peripheral vision, trapped as i was in the confines of a calendar which dictated to me the things i had to do, or wanted to do, in time yet to come.

And in living in this time yet to come, without knowing or realising it, i was losing out on the present.

When we anticipate a happiness, or a hardship to come, today’s joys and sorrows fleet by us, as insubstantial as a dream being dreamt by another. Then, like a camera coming into sudden focus so that a hazy picture jumps into sharp clarity, the coronavirus effect thrust the present on us in all its bristling immediacy.

No more envisioning things and events a week, a month, a year to come. Part of it, of course, was the lockdown, which squeezed time and space into the cramped claustrophobia of curfew. But even after the lockdown ends, the uncharted and unchartable course of the pandemic has scattered all our carefully-made plans to the random winds of chance.

The virus has given us a gift, the gift of the present. Whether it’s a welcome or unwelcome gift is up to us. But the present, tense as it may be, is all we have. Or ever had.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.

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