We are not on lockdown solely because of the pandemic. We are locked down by the pandemic. It does not just lock us in one place; it locks us in mentally: it is impossible for many of us to talk about something else, think about something else, or learn about something else. Even when we are experiencing something else, it is under the constraint of the pandemic. The pandemic has restructured the landscape of our work, our private life and future. The pandemic is also structuring the information we receive, in all types of areas. In a very real sense, the pandemic has structured our rights and is increasingly playing a role in the limits to our freedom and democracy.
And when we think that we can escape from the pandemic through music or reading, it resurfaces and is somehow always there: when we see actors on stage or in a film, in our minds, we protest against their indiscipline, forgetting that it is a film, or a concert, which was recorded long before these constraints. For many of us, the pandemic has become such an obsession that we sometimes think that it had always been there.
It is very important to escape this mental lockdown; it is also very important to really think about other things unrelated to the pandemic and the related personal and collective consequences.
Otherwise, the end of the lockdown will only be an illusion; and we will become like the snail, which only comes out of its shell to carry it on its back.
This is not a call to recklessness: it would be suicidal to forget the constraints imposed on us by this pandemic, which will probably last for a very long time. But these constraints do not oblige us to live at a certain preconceived pace. True freedom is the mastery of time.
It is rather a call to really think about what comes after. As is too often the case with pandemics, it should not be a sort of repentance for all the sins that had brought us there: we hear too many people say that if we had not sinned from an ecological or economics standpoint, we would not be where we are today. Similar to what occurred during the Middle Ages, the priests preached with the same vehemence and the same vocabulary that only the confession of our sins could give us a chance of reversing the plague.
When we think about what comes after, we are also thinking about our condition. In particular, we are thinking about what we really want to do with our lives, which is so brief, fragile, and full of surprises. Not to mention the rarity of life. Truly thinking about life, not in the sense of the fear of dying, but rather about the jubilation of living. To live every moment cheerfully. With the smile of the inmate on death row, which we all are. With gratitude for those who make the future possible and those that have the willpower to create a world where these disasters, which are undoubtedly inevitable, but also for which we can all be so prepared that we would not have to worry about it, either beforehand or when it comes. Meaning, not just for us, but also our children and grandchildren. And to do that, it means finding out what makes us unique. It also means figuring out what we are actually going to do with the very brief time that we have on this planet. We must create the conditions so that we can actually accomplish what we were meant to do and prevent a return to the prison of the mind and body. For ourselves and for future generations.
There is one obvious thing: ending the lockdown, in other words, our release, in a very real sense, means that we must do everything possible to avoid being on lockdown again.