Pandemic forces us to question who we are

The coronavirus draining from our shores is leaving some uncomfortable truths in the shallows.

This is, of course, my own perspective - but we don't know who we are. We still don't know who we are.

Within us is an aching for a simpler time, when a happy day was enough to eat and a good bed to lie in.

When our children came to us with their aches instead of silently tapping them into an app that might lead somewhere worse than anonymous.

Across the country, we see people frantically returning to the activities they think make them who they are. Beating a path to exercise classes, waiting outside the pub doors.

We have had a chance.

The world stopped and we wobbled it as hard as we could to start it going again. We Zoomed from morning until night. We went to virtual dance classes, cooking classes, art classes, social media classes.

We found essential reasons to venture into non-essential zones. We scoffed - in our Australian way - at danger.

Among us were those in genuine despair - sick, losing their life's savings, separated from the people who light their lives.

Those people will remember this long, lonely lesson. Those people will feel a different chill when, not too far in the future, people refer to the time of COVID-19.

But us others, we woke daily to the sound of a million wings beating with nowhere to go. We rode waves as we danced with our daughters, cresting and crashing to our favourite songs before lying down and thinking, "now what?".

Our lives, our beautiful lives, we don't know what they are for.

We saw friends across the supermarket and wanted to rush to them, to hug and laugh at being alive. Instead, we stood and garbled from a safe social distance, not wanting the conversation to end.

We Netflixed and Stanned and waited impatiently for our "normal" lives to resume.

We showed our kindness for others because we did not know what to do for ourselves.

We saw the confusion in our home-schooled children's eyes and tried to pretend it was not in our own.

So lucky are we to live in this country, our wide brown land helping protect us from this threat with its distance.

We have food and song and comfortable beds. And still it is not enough.

What is the meaning of our lives? Who's asking, bro? I got places to go.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah.

This story Forced to contemplate the meaning of life first appeared on The Canberra Times.