By Salma Hamdy
Your days are normal, in a sense. You wake up with the sun; your attempt to be productive is as honest as you can assume; you are productive, to an extent; you joke with your friends, laugh until your stomach aches, talk until your throat bleeds, walk until your feet swell; you come home, eat, sleep; you repeat, and wake up with the sun. Routine is accepted, appreciated, desired and embraced. You doubt anything else will provide you the stability and insurance that invitingly tells you tomorrow is promised to be as today was, that it will be fulfilling, satisfying, gratifying, stable, reassuring, and when you wake up with the sun another day, you anticipate and assume repetition. Somewhere in the vast universe, a switch is flipped, and your normal days are replaced with something new, something unfamiliar, something uncertain. When you wake up with the sun, you are not met with warmth. It is too quiet, you think. Eerie. Unsettling. There’s unease in your chest, the garden that had fully bloomed within your lungs wilting away as each rise of the sun grows dimmer. It’s unwelcome, unappreciated, daunting. Maybe you have seen this before — in a movie or two. The streets are empty, government laws are enacted and enforced, you are yet to step out of your household in days, weeks, months — will it be years?
Your laptop screen is a familiar sight early in the morning, your instructor’s voice scratchy and distant, your attention span far too low to catch a word being said. Your friends try to stay in contact. It’s difficult. Your ceremonies and celebrations are pushed back — “until further notice,” they claim. It’s difficult. Your assignments are building up. It’s difficult. You try and keep yourself entertained, learning ridiculous thirty second dance moves, baking different recipes, watching different shows. It’s difficult. You try and stay in shape. It’s difficult. You read, you write, you work, you do nothing but breathe. It’s difficult. You wake up with the sun, another day. It’s difficult. Everything is the same. Routine provides you no security, only the overwhelming sense of uncertainty that accompanies each waking day and each woeful night. Time ticks endlessly, yet you don’t move an inch.
It’s difficult, but it’s normal now.
It’s difficult, but you adapt. You change with the world. The universe is you, and you are the universe. When it moves, you move with it. When time shifts again, you are no longer stuck. It is a sudden change no longer. It is not as tragic and disheartening. Instead, it is gradual. The efforts to adjust grow easier as the streets become rowdier than they once were, with screeching tires and illuminating lights, as your laptop screen becomes less tiresome to stare at, and as the world becomes more tolerable. It is a shift, a new normal, but one that takes its time, as if conscious of your vulnerability and your fresh wounds. You, personally, are accepting of this progression. It is — easy. You doubt that you remain frightened as you formerly were, the unsettling rope that was once tight around your chest loosening its unforgiving hold on you. You can breathe easier, you think. You can move easier, you think. Your mind is quieter, you think. What once was impossible is ... probable. You think.
You think, but you are not granted enough time to learn, to grow, to know. Unpredictability is a strong weapon yielded by time. When you succeed in finally grasping and holding and gripping onto whatever stability you have managed for yourself, everything shifts again. When it no longer seems like the world is ending, and you and the universe are in tune once more, harmonizing with one another, the world shifts — again. When you have finally accommodated yourself, it all changes, again. The transition is almost a sorry and embarrassing attempt, you believe. Its efforts are futile at mimicking your previous life, at promising normality, normality you once knew but felt a lifetime ago. You’re bombarded with the desperation to return to what you once were, the need to liven the soul that was once adamant on productivity and sociability— and the disheartening inability to grant yourself your own desires.
"When you have finally accommodated yourself, it all changes, again."
It’s difficult, and different, and new, and terrifying — it’s also normal. A normal you were not given the chance to acquaint yourself with, but one you eventually — eventually — managed to adapt to.
Uncertainty is an interesting evil; it promises no promises. It has taken away so much and given back so little, as greedy as ever. It has stripped you of your sense of security and your stability, forcing you to accommodate to a life unfamiliar to yourself. But that is the beauty of the human life, is it not? What once was never is what is. Where you find yourself now might not be where you will be.
Uncertainty might be evil, but it is also a constant reminder that when time moves too fast and too slow all at once, you will somehow, someway catch up.