How Do You Live in the Present When the Present Is a Pandemic?

Arushi Tandon
4 min readApr 27, 2020

“Live in the now.”, “Forget about the past and the future. Live in the present. It’s all you have.” — we have practically grown up hearing this preached or trying to internalize it in some way. Especially us anxiety-riddled kids (and adults). The past and the future are where we usually live, which causes our present to be quite a stressful experience.

I’m a little confused now though. How can I be expected to live in the present when my present is a global pandemic and ‘hope’ seems bleak?

If I’m being completely honest here, I’ve been debating this topic for over a month now, ever since I was told to stay indoors for the betterment of myself and society at large. Ironically, we all feel caged and restricted — interestingly after all those zoo visits as children, we finally realize what ‘humanity’ has been putting animals through all these years. And besides, the realization through precarious WhatsApp forwards about how “We are the virus ❤” we’re also perpetuating ecofascism. It’s not just that, while some of us live inside our comfortable urban 2/3BHK homes in posh areas, not everyone is as lucky as us. The underprivileged, who by definition lack the privilege we have always possessed doesn’t have access to 24/7 grocery stores or online delivery, or even basic necessities, in some cases.

How then, can I be expected to live in the present when the present is nothing short of a dystopian nightmare?

My thoughts these days oscillate between a better past and a doomed future. Needless to say — I don’t find respite in either. The past reminds me of a better yet inevitable time that eventually led up to where we are now. The future makes me feel hopeless and saddens me to a great degree. So I really don’t know where I stand.

Despite the constant turmoil, however, I have been making an effort to live in the present. The success of that varies from day to day though. One day, I’ll be happy and fulfilled and taking it one day at a time. Then comes a day when my mental health takes a dip and I can’t seem to sit still in this uncertain dark cloud of misery that envelops me whole because I feel so lonely and so hopeless at the same time.

These days the news channels don’t tell us about the weather. They tell us about the death toll and disease count. Murky, isn’t it?

It’s also our reality now. And you know what? It probably will be until we have a tested vaccine. But who knows? Maybe we’ll have COVID 2.0 or a new virus threatening to end the human race as is?

I got really dark really quick, didn’t I? Well, it’s easy too. With the gross misinformation that is circulating on social media where everyone is suddenly a health expert sitting in the comfort of their own homes, it’s easy to get negative about this. The truth is, yes, the situation is pretty bad. But we’re not helping it by being overly negative either.

This is one of the rare occasions I’m proud to be a millennial. Do you want to know why? Because millennials have chosen to do something about the situation and cope with it at the same time. We’re donating to help those who need it, but we’re also meme-ing the heck out of this situation.

We’re donating to help those who need it, but we’re also meme-ing the heck out of this situation.

As someone who suffers from mental health issues, I know how easy it is to get sucked into the void of self-destruction and self-pity. But as a sufferer of mental health issues, I also know that it’s not entirely impossible to pull yourself out of that spiral and learn to cope. That’s what I’m doing when I’m not having the worst mental health days.

Basically what I’m trying to put across is, being negative about the situation and incessantly sharing unverified information to incite fear is not helping anybody. Yes, we need to accept the new normal that will come. But this new normal doesn’t have to be dark and gloomy.

This new normal can simply be being more environmentally friendly when we can, consuming only the products we essentially need to, not over utilizing resources that don’t need over utilization, spending time with our families and friends deliberately, finding peace in a world outside our phones when we can, taking breaks and taking care of ourselves when we can, and most importantly working towards building a society that does not so unequally affect people during a disaster or a pandemic. This is what a new normal should look like.

I live in the present by absorbing these facts and doing what I can, already. I live in the ‘now’ by doing my bit and staying at home to contain the virus because somewhere deep inside my heart, I have hope. I know that we will get past this and things will get better. I know that I’m going to meet my friends for a coffee before the year ends and I know that this is not the end of the road. And if I got this, then you definitely do.

So let’s forge towards a better tomorrow and the new normal that awaits us. Let’s also pledge to do this while acknowledging the privilege we possess and the power it gives us as a result. We can do more than just talk about these things and that motivates me enough to live for tomorrow. I hope it can do the same for you.

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Twitter: @arushi_twt
Arushi Tandon
Arushi Tandon