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Freedom in Uncertainty: A philosophical reflection on what’s to come

To the reader,

I know you are probably sick of hearing about Covid-19, Coronavirus, Rona, ‘the virus’, and all of its namesakes to date. I am too. 

But, it’s got me thinking about how we can use this time to reflect. For me, this crisis has highlighted just how bombarded we are with a barrage of information from all sides, constantly in a cycle of consuming and reproducing media, creating a steady stream of white noise in our minds. 

Many of us are afraid to be alone with our thoughts, which I think is a greater symptom of this crisis. Reflection on our own mental condition is invaluable, especially when our sanity is being tried on a daily basis. 

I don’t want to add to the volume of your COVID-induced media barrage. However, perhaps you can draw some solidarity from the ramblings of a cabin-feverish soon-to-be-graduate with the looming prospect of unemployment. It might not be much, but it is a chance to connect and share our similarities whilst we endure this omnipresent uncertainty that characterises life at present.

Solidarity is, after all, pertinent. This is an incredibly isolating time for many, yet we are united by a common struggle. COVID has largely consumed the lives of us all. Staying inside for weeks at a time, social distancing and spending all day looking at our laptops and phones is no doubt having an effect on our collective wellbeing. Some of us are separated from the ones we love. Some of us have lost jobs. Some have lost their lives, or the lives of their loved ones.

If you are in a position privileged enough to still be able to venture outside for specific purposes, you may notice that the social atmosphere is vastly different. An undercurrent of tension runs between us: eye contact is frequent and frazzled, like we are trying to death-stare each other into COVID conformity via social distancing. The track outside my house has become a human highway of dog walkers, cyclists and joggers, all beeping our mental horns at each other and angrily singing along to “Don’t Stand so Close to Me” on the radios in our heads. 

Running, normally my go-to escape, has become an stressful affair – timing my overtaking of walkers to comply with physical distancing, all to have my efforts look pointless after getting narrowly shaved by a special breed of self-centred cyclist, MAMILs (Middle Aged Men In Lycra). 

There are very few ways to switch off from the COVID-chaos. There are no ends and no beginnings to the day. Although I am normally a fairly motivated and productive person, each day I find myself at a loss for positive action or inspiration. I feel myself becoming a troglodyte. 

While I still make an effort to complete my daily requirements, I am not inspired like I normally am. Unfinished projects begin to pile up on top of each other. I feel increasingly negative about the prospect of graduating into a job market that is barren, after all the effort I have put into my Arts degree. I continue to receive rejection after rejection on my job applications. 

Yet, I know that I am not alone in this, and that does give me hope. Although this crisis feels eternal in the moment, it is temporary in the bigger picture. 

Furthermore, while uncertainty plagues daily life at the moment, there is a certain freedom that comes with uncertainty that, if we can, we should capitalise off at this time. We are being encouraged to use this time productively, and we no doubt should. The connotation of the word productivity has a metallic edge to it, denoting that we must be working on something, producing something. That’s all well and good, yet maybe this is that golden opportunity we actually have to reflect on our lives and where we are heading.

Instead of searching for stimulation through activities, Netflix and an endless stream of procrastination, perhaps we should be asking ourselves why we need to constantly be stimulated. In the quiet of isolation, we hear our true inner monologue emerge through the white noise. And I know it’s got something amazing to say, if only we’ll listen.

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