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My New Year’s letter to a world I may never see

By Joel Pablo Salud Published Dec 30, 2020 3:33 am

Dear Ms. Future, 

Who would’ve thought that suddenly, on a morning too pale to even recall, all would change?  

That for a life nearing its inevitable sunset, mine to be exact, the accoutrements of love, friendship, familial warmth, laughter, the modest achievements of my workaday world, would suddenly come to a halt, like the end note of some ‘80s piped-in music in the elevator to herald the closing of office hours, and thereafter well-nigh cease to exist? 

I would never have dreamed of it. As a child, I remember tomorrow as being this endless soiree between the day’s doldrums and this boy’s frantic daydreams. Dreams of one day becoming an astronaut, to walk on the moon, or an archeologist resurrecting the memory of mysteries and the unexplainable. 

Flanked by these chances at explorations is my dream of being a writer. I was lucky enough to bag one out of three, although I catch myself wondering at times: what would it be like to graze my hands on the gold of pharaoh’s tomb? 

Young people today are not as fortunate. Many who have hoped for a future shortly after graduation found themselves wedged between a raging pandemic on one side and an economic recession on the other. 

More than a vaccine and our present and future happiness, I believe enchantment to be the better choice, the charm and fascination of looking at the world through a child’s eyes. 

 

Companies whose financial wings were already bent out of shape took a nosedive weeks after lockdown, some shutting down for good. Those fluid enough to remain run the risk of infection.  

Students who dabbled in the arts night and day left the four aging walls of their university with little or nothing to look forward to. It’s as if gatherings of every sort have become obsolete, worse outlawed.  

A shift in career is not as easy as it seems, as some would have you believe. As such, passions turned cold. Even for some writers, prolific as they were prior to COVID-19, it became evident that the pandemic and the isolation were just too much to bear.  

COVID-19 and isolation were too much to bear even for some writers.

Publications floundered, bars dried up, and stadiums, theaters, ballrooms and cafés went from being haunted to being ghost towns. The first of several weeks saw whole streets empty of people and vehicles. Bustling business hubs from Avenida to Makati fell silent.  

The silver lining: it was a great day for the environment to heal itself. 

I guess it’s safe to assume that life as we knew it has ceased to exist, at least in the next 10 to 15 years. We will have to do things differently from now on. All our planned excursions into shaping our current and future happiness might fall second in line for the more practical protocols of searching for a vaccine. 

But then, wanting to go back to how it was may not really be a good idea. The hate, the excesses of power, greed, the polluting of the seas and fouling of the mind, adulterating the truth, the blighting of everything that keeps us alive, impairing humanity’s judgment to the point of annihilation, the ideas that leave us none the wiser, the wholescale murders: I’m not sure if they’re worth going back to. 

Perhaps that’s the whole point why we need to stay indoors and out of other people’s way, to begin a longed-after passage into introspection, to search once more for the value that makes us human within.

More than a vaccine and our present and future happiness, I believe enchantment to be the better choice, the charm and fascination of looking at the world through a child’s eyes.   

To once more gain the allure and magic born of mystery and discovery, that chance encounter with the indefinable. To understand life as more than just the spring-operated accuracy of bodily functions, but one of charm and the je ne sais quoi found in the everyday.  

To look at our own existence as something breathtaking, a sparkle in the darkness, even miraculous: what better way to start anew? Perhaps that’s the whole point why we need to stay indoors and out of other people’s way, to begin a longed-after passage into introspection, to search once more for the value that makes us human within 

Easier said than done, I know. The damage we’ve wrought may take decades to fix. If only to survive, many would risk facing the virus than die of hunger. The millions of tons of bombs we’ve detonated have left our planet in the throes of agony. The very road we stand on cries out for blood. 

I believe enchantment to be the better choice, the charm and fascination of looking at the world through a child’s eyes.   

Ms. Future, should you find it in your heart to gift our children with anything worth their struggles, let it be enchantment. More than their personal happiness, win them over with fascination. At last, that their knowledge may enjoy a sprinkling of innocence. 

Let their future be a keepsake they will never forget.