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We Are Not the Ones to Define Our Times but Live Them


Good game, COVID-19. After three years of dodging and deflecting, the little extra line on the at-home test came as a surprise, equal to a line on a pregnancy test. Even though, like pregnancy, you can know there is a possibility, seeing the confirmation is still bewildering.

Thankfully, we had mild cases. The whole house came down with it, with flu-like symptoms for adults and extra screen time for the kids. However, it feels like the end of an era. We had the mantra of "it's just two weeks" as it spread to four weeks and six weeks and into months and years. As someone who used more than a few bleach bottles wiping down groceries until we knew better, I worried about my mom and my kids more than I worried about myself.

There's already been a rush toward think pieces about what COVID-19 means and will have meant for different demographics of society. However, each time I read them, I think about how we're still too close to it to truly pull apart the long-term effects because we're still actively seeing the long-term effects of the virus and societal fallout linger in ways we can't accurately define yet.

Are there embedded cardiological or neurological effects that will go hand-in-hand with the isolation of high schoolers who became college students during this time? Will pandemic babies, those lucky to have had close caregivers interact with them 24/7 as jobs shut down or were brought into the living room, be able to take that security of attachment into a broken world?

Viktor E. Frankl, author of "Man's Search for Meaning," said, "When we are no longer able to change a situation — we are challenged to change ourselves." If anything, my hope may rest only in the adaptivity of humans to all these unprecedented events. It's the hallmark staple of my generation: There is no normal. We are living on the sharp side of the bladed curse that admonishes us to live in interesting times.

When we wonder when change happens, when there will be a boiling point to revolution, it may be less dramatic than we think. Change may be a slow creep that we are unlikely to be able to define as we live it. We'll think that it's two weeks. We'll think it's just a demonstration at the Tennessee capitol. We'll think it's an activity that others plan until we're swept up in the injustices ourselves at the ground level. They came for us instead of those who were already on the list.

Unfortunately, we are not the ones to define an era; we are the ones who must actively write it. Our spots on any lists may not be ones that even make it as footnotes on the chapters of history written by the passionately curious but ultimately detached descendants of our times. But our ability to live through them might still be a small echo through time.

As we started to shake off the symptoms of COVID-19, I told my mom, "We're the descendants of those who survived the OG plague." She blinked at me. "The Black Death?" She rolled her eyes, and I continued, "Someday, any grand-grandkiddos might say the same for us."

Cassie McClure is a writer, millennial, and unapologetic fan of the Oxford comma.
She can be contacted at cassie@mcclurepublications.com.