In the midst of the pandemic, the stock market is down, people are losing their jobs and there is constant panic and uncertainty. The media doesn’t help the situation with at least 90% of it being fear-driven. Students are moving out of the universities in order to go home and my situation has been no different.
I headed to LAX airport with no traffic arriving to what appeared to be a closed airport. There seemed to be a few people working there, and when I got inside I saw people with masks on their faces. There were signs saying, “Stand six feet away from each other,” and “Wash your hands.” The airport made sure the situation was contained, or at least made it appear to be contained as the airlines are now losing billions of dollars.
I finally got to my gate that said Mexico City. I sat down on one of the chairs and looked around the airport and noticed a few people scattered in the waiting room. I have never seen the airport this empty in my life and it appeared that the people there were acting defensive. At the same time, I was thinking about the past. I thought about the things I did — some good and some bad. I thought about the future, about what life was going to be like taking classes online at home with my family. And I was left there with those thoughts until it was time to board the plane.
Inside the plane, I saw less than 15 people taking the flight. I wondered how the airlines were making money, but then I read an article that said they had the planes full of shipments down below. I didn’t know if that was the case for every flight, but it made sense. I tried reading a book, but couldn’t seem to concentrate. It was the strangest thing to be reading a book while simultaneously thinking about the past and the future. This reminded me of my childhood and how I had the same thing happen to me while reading. The whole thing was surreal; the whole situation was out of a movie, and I think that reality overcame fiction in this case.
I always thought about this quote by Aldous Huxley: “The trouble with fiction … is that it makes too much sense. Reality never makes sense.” Now, it makes perfect sense. The words in the book were less important compared to the current reality hijacking my brain. There are moments when reality is stranger than fiction and it seems that we sometimes return to fiction in order to make sense of our situation.
After I arrived in Mexico City, I sensed the difference between two countries: the culture, the language, the weather. I knew I was going back to my roots, back to the inescapable shadow of culture. In this sense, where you grow up and the system you are raised in ends up becoming a big part of who you are.
After I took the first step out of the plane, a police officer put a gun to my forehead (it was a fever pistol or whatever you call it); he was tracking fever symptoms. Whatever the pistol recorded, they let me go. I saw people crowded at the airport with their families and some of them had mouth covers. It seemed as if the news was delayed and people were not as alarmed as in Los Angeles — I blame this on the Mexican government, which didn’t enforce precautionary measures.
But I knew the people depended on the service industry a lot, and most of the economy in Mexico works informally. What that means is that it isn’t recorded through a government agency. The reasons for this are complex, but it has to do with the lack of job opportunities and the fact that half of the country lives in poverty. People do what they can do to move on and survive, and I can think that an outbreak here in Mexico will be bad.
I thought about the lack of resources there are to support the sick and about a potential outbreak of the pandemic and how it could devastate the economy. I remembered that in situations where people lose jobs and things become chaotic, crime increases. I recalled shootings, extortions, kidnappings, assaults and suffering. I reminded myself that there is something obscure about human nature. I thought about the history of the world and how it is grounded on warfare. How societies and cities we live in are built upon the sacrifice of a nation’s army. They are built on violence, fear and conquest, and I think our lack of knowledge about this makes us ignorant.
Later on, I found my connection flight and took another plane. Then, I arrived home and thought about how nothing has changed. It looked the same and it felt as if college was a dream. Although I’m a little older now, I felt like the same person on the inside that I was when I left. Maybe I’m not, but it does feel like life is moving on and I am a spectator. I thought about Heraclitus and what he said about the river of life. “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” I went home with my family and I felt a sense of joy, since sometimes I take them for granted.
A Personal Theory
The pandemic is making people feel more connected with their families. Well, that is my situation and opinion. Maybe it is the sense of imminent danger that makes you think about the people you care about, as if the distractions of life are stripped away and are replaced by COVID-19.
On a positive note, I think this is a good thing that’s coming out of the pandemic. At least it is a good speculation.