When COVID shut down my college campus my school bag was shoved deep into a closet. After more than a year of quarantine and confusion it is still filled with past assignments, printed worksheets ready for the recycling bin. It surprises me how far-away my pre-pandemic memory is situated – these assignments are now hardly recognizable to me. One of these papers was a ten-year plan, meant to be finished for a sociology class, still a blank page.
That semester had involved taking an environmental sciences course; an activity that can be summarized as three months of terrible news. News about all the ways in which humanity had profoundly damaged our only home, news about how all the wrong people were going to suffer immeasurably for these crimes against the planet. We sat listening, cycling through rapt attention and total dissociation. Massive extinction events, cataclysmic fires, rising tides. Threads of synthetic fabric and splintered plastic fragments are in the ground, the water, the food we eat. Did you know Iceland now holds funerals for melting glaciers? It felt as though the world was dying, yet I was expected to continue living.