Letter to Future Generations

Dear Future Generations,

 

I understand that you are looking to the future in high spirits, but as you continue to do so, I encourage you to look back on the past to understand what has brought the world to where it currently stands. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, I have decided to write a letter to you on how my life has been and the takeaways from this unprecedented time.

Right now, we are living in a time where tasks as simple as going out to buy groceries have been given a new weight. Most people are rushing to the stores to stuff their pantries and leaving the aisles empty as a result. At the surface, it is understandable why people are in such a hurry to stock up, but by doing so, they are not leaving anything for people who might not be able to reach those aisles quite as fast. Nevertheless, there are people who are helping the elderly and the sick by going out and buying groceries for them so that they did not have to leave their houses. 

While there is nothing immoral about stocking up on groceries, it has been eye-opening to see whether people would put themselves or their community first, so even though Covid-19 has shaken the world it has at least unearthed some self-discovery. It has stripped away all the excuses and left a direct view of who we truly are as people underneath all the social norms and facades we put up in our daily life. 

Not only am I learning more about our character as a society, but I am learning strange quirks about us that I had never realized before. One rather surprising quirk that I stumbled upon is mankind’s dependency on touch. In a study on the science of touch by Dacher Keltner and Matt Hertenstein, a professor at DePauw University, scientists came to a realization that physical contact is vital for human beings. 

Said Keltner “Touch provides its own language of compassion, a language that is essential to what it means to be human.”

However, with the spread of Covid-19, society has been deprived of this essential language, and there are visible consequences. Everybody I talk to seems in low spirits. We miss being able to give hugs, we miss being able to give playful smacks on the arm, we miss being human. Because to a certain extent, being able to touch is a part of being human. 

As Mya Roberts said in her book The V Girl: A Coming of Age Story, “The human touch is that little snippet of physical affection that brings a bit of comfort, support, and kindness. It doesn’t take much from the one who gives it, but can make a huge difference in the one who receives it.”

All those little embraces are now taboo. After all, the entire point of the quarantine is social distancing. That mantra “six feet apart” has now been on constant repeat for months. However, even if it is for the sake of my health, the strain it puts on people is not any easier to bear. Facetiming friends and family can only do so much: no matter how much we speak, it cannot replace the physical contact I have grown accustomed to. It is frightening to realize that such a small part of my life can make such an impact. I never noticed how much I needed that physical contact until it was gone. That notion seems to be the constant lesson that Covid-19 wanted us to learn: never take anything for granted because you will miss it when it is gone. 

Covid-19 has most certainly changed my life, and while it has taken an insurmountable number of wonderful people from their families, it has left you future generations to ponder about the truer, rawer version of human nature that has been released by Covid-19. I admit that I often bury myself underneath so many different excuses and social pretenses that I go through my life on autopilot. I never care to think critically about what I am doing or how I am feeling, but Covid-19 has forced me to do so, and that is why I came to all of these realizations. That is what I want you to understand. No matter where you are or what you are doing, be in the moment. That way, when a new situation arises, you will not be hit by a truck the way I was. So even as you look to the future, remember to be in the present. 

Sincerely,

Joan Thyagarajan