Fear and Fatalism: The Pandemic-induced States of Life

My wife and I haven’t really traveled a lot in the short time that we’ve been married. We were hoping to change that this year, and as early as February, we were planning a trip to Europe. In the few weeks since we finalized our itinerary, life as we knew it was upended by a pandemic-induced lockdown and the subsequent chaos, confusion and economic ruin that it left in its wake.

Living in a constant state of fear and paranoia since then, I’ve now reached a point of pandemic fatigue. I’m starting to look at the world through a fatalistic lens – the idea that my health and well-being is in destiny’s hands and all of this is beyond my control. I’ve started to trivialize this pandemic, by calling it the flu and equating it to a fever that lasts a few days – even though I know better. I’ve started indulging in behavior that is risky, and I’m attempting to legitimize it by convincing myself that life has to go on.

And with a lot of introspection, I’ve realized that the reason I keep vacillating between these two states – fear and fatalism – is because I’m trying to make sense of this pandemic, unprecedented as it is in its scale and scope. For the first time in the history of the modern world, all 7.5B of us are facing a common threat. A once-in-a-lifetime event, taking stock of its scale and scope is a task I’m simply not equipped to handle. And because I am unable to frame it in the right context – combined with the toll that this pandemic has exacted on my mental health and of those around me – I am inclined to trivialize it. To mock it even.

But the fact remains that those who know more than I do are constantly cautioning against letting our guards down. Epidemiologists, scientists, doctors, healthcare workers, national and international organizations…. The pandemic is a reality we will have to live with for a while. And we will have to do so without fear and fatalism but with strength and courage. I owe it, not just to my friends and family, but also to those without the means to fight this – physical and pecuniary. I need to play my part to see my loved ones on the other side of this.

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