Yes, this might well be the end of the world. However, we will see it through, just as we have done every time someone has gone on to make such a claim. I can vividly recall how, little over a month ago, this affair lacked any degree of urgency to it. The consumption of a certain brand of beer was on the rise, its name reminiscent of what was by then an intriguing, albeit not immediately alarming news story from somewhere deep inside the People’s Republic of China. Better times, better times indeed.
Little over a month has passed since such days of bliss, yet those memories feel like they took place over a lifetime ago. Since those now long-gone happier times, to claim that things have changed would feel like an understatement – even though that is factually the case.
Things have indeed changed. China proved itself capable of containing the contagion, the stock market crashed, and the epicentre of the recently-baptised pandemic moved west, to Europe. However, perhaps most notably to us, our little bubble by the Isis was burst open by the radical measures adopted in the increasingly desperate efforts to eradicate this common enemy of mankind.
These times, however, do offer one thing, which is opportunity. When was the last time we had a shot at introspection?
As we all know, Trinity term will take place in name only, and as social distancing and travel restrictions are made the order of the day throughout the globe, a great many of us may have fallen victims to the dire prospect of solitude, and in all honesty, despair.
Most, if not all of us, find ourselves back home now. We are far away from that once sprawling hub that bridged us all, confined to solitude, at the mercy of the terrifying tides of that one thing mischievously evading us throughout Hilary — spare time. While the prospect of the months to come may be at first glance grim, this does not have to be the case.
To claim that the days and weeks to come will be by any means characterised by serenity and tranquillity would be a denial of the truth, and I will not indulge such vain hopes. These times, however, do offer one thing, which is opportunity. When was the last time we had a shot at introspection? A chance to really understand and work on ourselves?
If there is one thing we ought to at least attempt, it is to make the most out of these circumstances. I wholeheartedly acknowledge this is much easier said than done. The events developing in real time before our very eyes lack all precedent. This plague of our times is undeniably daunting and at times absolutely devastating.
Hold fast, for now, to the memories
Only once such realities are accepted, however, may we claim ourselves equipped to overcome them. And overcome them we will, I believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt. To paraphrase one of the most beautiful Oxloves I’ve had the good fortune to read while scrolling through the endless depths of Facebook: hold fast, for now, to the memories, to those of the friends we all wish we had spent more with, to those of the people we may have been falling in love with, to those of the city we took for granted for the longest of times and now fiercely miss.
Remember one thing: there is no sun without shadow, and it is essential to know the night.