The idea of wearing masks in public would have been an odd concept in my home city of Sydney two years ago. But now, it’s a reality. We’ve added a new reminder whenever we leave home:
Phone, wallet, keys, and mask.
And I have to be honest: the sight of masks in public is a stark reminder of the lack of freedom we face in this world right now, all because of a stupid virus that (despite what some may think) is deadly enough to be a problem. It’s clearly not deadly enough to wipe out humanity — since a majority of people seem to be surviving it — but it is enough to make many of us worry about the vulnerable people in our lives.
It’s also enough to make some of us fearful of the future.
Will we ever see the mask as a distant memory of these troublesome years? Will hugs truly be felt, without the subconscious fear of it being your last? Will we ever be normal again?
The awful truth is that no one has the answer right now, and this uncertainty is driving many of us insane. But let me offer you some words of wisdom:
“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”
Read it again if you want. It may sound dark, but the beautiful truth about life is there. That it’s still worth planning for the future, even in the face of global catastrophe.
Rumour has it that this quote was first enunciated by Martin Luther, a German scholar of the 15th century. But this is yet to be proven. Regardless, it is a perfect summary of what I’m about to tell you:
We don’t know what the future holds, and it’s a waste of time predicting it. You could drown in the ongoing news cycle only to realise that your darkest fears have come true. And what a complete waste of valuable time! Especially when you could have spent that time doing something meaningful.
Or you could wallow in the fear of complete annihilation of the world only to realise that it’s never going to happen. And when the world goes back to normal, you’ll need to pull yourself back up again, while others who continued to water their garden recover quicker.
It’s a no brainer if you ask me.
It clearly may be different if we totally knew the world was coming to an end, but that’s not predicted here. In fact, many immunologists around the world are hopeful that Covid-19 will become endemic. This means it won’t be eradicated, but it’s impact will be drastically suppressed. It will be just another version of the flu.
But this is not the only reason to hold hope for the future. I hold hope because the alternative is not worth considering. It really is just a waste of time. Why waste your days fearing for the future when you could spend this moment, right now, doing what you love.
Planting an apple tree could mean whatever you want it to be.
Maybe you’re stuck in lockdown, staring at the same four walls and trying to un-bored yourself. It sucks, I know, but I implore you to do something meaningful. It doesn’t have to be productive towards your future goals. You could binge a week’s worth of TV in one day if you want; it’s way better than fearing for the future.
Or you could learn something new. The world is right in front of you, on this screen you are reading from. It holds a lifetime of information, and all you have to do is search for it. Learn a new language, tackle a new recipe, or uncover a curious thought.
You can’t control the world’s future, not even if you try. But you can control your own. And all you need is a single-minded action with just a touch of hope.