Choices and articulations
It has been 571 days or eighteen months since the beginning of the pandemic. When it tipped a year mark, it felt as though the end was near. I often thought about how this would end. What would I observe in the last days of normalcy and health returning. What would I write? In the past six weeks, writing observations about the pandemic has gradually been crowded out as daily life resumes in its ways and style of the pre-pandemic times. At the same time, it is also clear that it will be naive to be thinking of the end, Covid-19 had more to do to all of us.
This week, India is nearing a billion mark on vaccine doses administered. In August, I received the second dose of the vaccine at a private hospital in Virajpet. Half of August was spent on a road trip with bits of cycling. Since early 2021, this was the third road trip. These wait to be written about here. What I do realise is the incredible privilege and good fortune to be traveling in these times. Even as the political dynamics get worrying in this country, there is much to be hopeful about, especially its people and the outstanding resilience with which they return to re-build, after every setback, every disaster … There is no shortage of any of these here.
The thought of pandemic recedes like an object in a rear view mirror. Public life in India seems less weighed down by it, especially in the cities. Airlines have been cleared to resume operations at full capacity. Among the list of worries, death isn’t one of them. It is income, economic recovery, coping with losses and grief.
By the 500th day, I had nearly abandoned writing the lockdown journal. Perhaps, this is how it ends. By not observing, writing or caring anymore. It isn’t apathy. It is the prolonged nature of these times lived under an overbearing shadow of the pandemic. That it can be this catastrophic worldwide does feel striking sometimes. Weren’t we supposed to be living an unprecedented time of safety, scientific progress, technological advancements and prosperity?
At this point in the pandemic’s couse, I am thinking about the choices we have made. Choices as individuals, as families and as governments. Many different choices were made in March 2020. They came to determine outcomes for us. Today is how we look from the consequences of the choices made.
Looking back into the last eighteen months standing here I think I have learnt a thing or two about choices. Choice involves uncertainty and risk. It comes along with an anxiety whether a choice made is the best in terms of its rewards. But choice made with an unarticulated ‘best’ outcome is probably where things go wrong. It could lead to finding oneself in a place and situation that wasn’t expected and becomes a miserable present. Maybe, a choice is a desirable one when the expected outcome is articulated in terms of where one wants to be rather than picking one that leads to an unarticulated and unknown ‘best’. Should we be attempting better articulations than optimising for the best always?