The Everlasting Present

Research does show that when you take people away from the things that are familiar to them, it’s surprisingly easy for people to lose track of themselves—their identity, the things that are important to them.

Most of us have not faced a situation even remotely like this. So we have no previous experience that we can use to interpret it. We have no guidance about how we should be responding.

I think it conveys a sort of dreamlike quality. It doesn’t feel real because we have no points of reference.

Susan Clayton, Psychologist, College of Wooster

Our routine is the scaffolding of life. It’s how we organize information and our time. And without it, we can feel really lost.

Adrienne Heinz, Clinical Research Psychologist, Veterans Affairs National Center for PTSD

Precarity comes from uncertainty, by having to deal with challenges that are bigger than ourselves. Now we’re facing a pandemic we cannot face on our own.

Part of our surreal situation, I feel, is that this coronavirus—we cannot see it. But it’s dangerous, and people are dying from it.

Elena Portacolone, Sociologist, University of California

Right now, many of the patterns we know and love have been obliterated

What she meant was we can’t plan for the future, because in the age of the coronavirus, we don’t know what we’ll be doing in six months, or even tomorrow. We’re stuck in a new kind of everlasting present.

Matt Simon, Why Life During a Pandemic Feels So Surreal

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