Existential thought: We were born to feel alive

There are certain things I will miss when the lockdown is lifted. Driving on almost empty highways and roads plus a parking spot right next to the entrance of the shopping mall is something I have gotten used to in just a few months’ time. Not having to worry about tailgaters and lane shifters while driving is wonderful. I am definitely not looking forward to the heavy traffic during rush hour on my way to pilates class when life goes back to “normal”.

Another bonus while in lockdown is not having to go to the petrol station too often. The only places I drive to are the local shopping centres for essentials and the national park – for exercise.

I suppose being in my exercise gear the whole day, every day is also a bonus while working from home. But, then again, if you’re like me, you actually miss dressing up for work. Hey, ya know some people actually had fun thinking about what to wear to the office as a form of artistic outlet! No Mark Zuckerberg grey shirts, please!

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Living in a bubble is blissful. Or not. While there are perks to life being so predictable while in lockdown, serendipity is missing from people’s lives. It is basically: Eat. Sleep. Exercise. Work. Repeat. Yup. No wonder people keep comparing our situation to Bill Murray’s character Phil in Groundhog Day. Random things hardly happen while our movements are limited. We don’t bump into colleagues on the way to the kitchen anymore. It’s not the same catching up over Zoom or on the phone. We don’t feel connected as much when we are not talking to our gym buddies in person over coffee or lunch.

As I crave for some challenge in the mundane, I now have a renewed appreciation for driving a manual car. Driving one has been one of the most exciting parts of the day over the last three months. As Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell say, I feel the need for speed.

Indeed, while heavy traffic and rush hour to and from the office may have caused a little bit of stress in pre-pandemic days, that feeling actually made us feel alive. One can appreciate now that it’s not just being happy that puts meaning in our lives. Anything that causes us to feel anxious, excited or worried — in the right doses — is part of what makes life interesting. Just ask any famous rock star or artist and he or she will tell you they wrote more music or wrote more poetry when they were still struggling — when they had more angst to work with. Sleeping in their cars or being part of a gang back in the day gave them more material to write about, not to mention street creds.

Think about it, there are times when we can’t tell what day it is anymore because nothing significant happens most days of the week. The reason for this is, we only remember days that have momentous events in it. We don’t have those while in lockdown. Even the daily update on the number of Covid_19 cases has lost its novelty. Pun intended there.

It’s not surprising that people who have been in lockdown longer than most, like those 60 people who attended an engagement party in Victoria, Australia ended up breaking the lockdown rules. Not that I condone what they did, but one wonders why otherwise well-educated and prominent members of the community decided to stick it to the man. I could imagine how even organising the party itself may have already been a thrill. After being in lockdown for half a year, they likely felt the need for speed. They felt the need to be alive. They achieved that by taking bold risks. I think it helped that they found strength in numbers. They did, of course, suffer the consequences later on after they got caught. To be sure, receiving abuse from online trolls and copping thousands in fines most likely made them feel alive albeit in a bad way. They’ve been called selfish and all kinds of names, but maybe deep inside they thought it was worth it if only to bring attention to the mental toll the lockdown is taking. Who are we to judge, really?

The longer people are stuck in lockdown, the more people will get bolder and take risks. They’ll start small but they will eventually break some lockdown rules. That’s because it goes against human nature to not be connected in more ways than one. We were born to feel alive. When I go for my afternoon walks around the neighbourhood, I have started seeing people in street gatherings, cold beers in hand, in the guise of minding their children playing. They smile and give me this “please don’t dob us in” look. Yeah, they are taking some risks alright. It’s been said that a lot of successful people tend to be risk takers. I suppose no one would have kids if no one took any risks. Again, part of being alive. Oh well, hopefully, we’ll all laugh about this one day when we are free from the imaginary chains.

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