“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.
Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
As scientists and physicians work to treat and cure the physical symptoms of long-haul Covid, many people are struggling with the emotional long-haul of the pandemic. It hit some of us unprepared as the intense fear and grief of last year faded” (Grant).
Last week, everyone read The New York Times article, everyone nodded a yes, and I too thought, this is exactly what I am feeling after this past year. Before I read the piece, I had coined the sense as ‘mopey’. Just that downcast and defeated feeling after a hard year of cynicism and despair might leave you moping around your living room.
Is there anything more delightful than sailing into Venice, watching as the waterfront slowly takes shape, delightful small boats darting about the harbor and the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica up ahead ringing in your arrival? Seriously, that occasion is a memory I hold dear, as one does the sweet air. Perhaps you also keep a cherished moment in time where everything came together like magic? When the mist rose at dawn and illuminated the mountain ridge? When you spotted a bald eagle soaring overhead? When the Ferris wheel held you and your bestie at the very top just as the summer sun set into a whole sky of orange and pink? We all have those sacred moments lingering right under this same now, don’t we?
When I look back at my post from one year ago, I hear exhilaration, fear and uncertainty, but mostly an exhale that the business of life has halted. The post is filled with bursts of cheer with lines like, “Here we are. On our own couches. In the middle of our own living rooms. Reading an actual magazine. In loungewear. Bought online. Yeah. There are a few perks during the scary and dark days which have clouded our planet and forced us all indoors. I am not here to tell you what you should be doing to survive these days, but just wanted to let you know that we will, mostly, and I for one plan to celebrate epically on the other side.” By the end of the post, I was certain that hope for all was on the horizon, “I do not want to diminish the suffering for all the sick, for the families grieving those already lost, for this is a disaster that no one deserves. To think so is pure cruelty and folly. There is no telling where we will all be on the other side of this pandemic, but I know we will all have stories about heroic neighbors and sweet strangers, tales of unmeasurable fortitude and creative-energy bursts, new alliances and newly-developed passions. And most of all, a real understanding, like for real, that we are indeed one world. One small world.” I envisioned this new Still Life in the most temporary of terms, with joyous outcomes by summer.