The pandemic and the lockdown makes one realise that life is nothing but a trap – but that’s just one way of looking at it, writes Annette Mueller
The trap seen from the inside
The lockdown, the closed shops, the prohibition of large get-togethers, parties, travel, and other external pleasures, forces us to reflect on ourselves. What else is there to do? We think about ourselves, and how our life could possibly be threatened by a global virus so quickly. The finiteness of life and what have we made of it or what does it do to us? Are we consciously in charge of our life or do we live as we have been used to for years? Happy or not does not matter. The main thing is convenience.
But now, in a time of limited distractions and outside pleasures, can this be our chance to recognise ourselves? What am I doing? How do I live? Do I want to live like this?
If we want to and face ourselves, we can no longer run away from us. And sometimes we realise:
We are trapped in our life and it is OK because we know this place all too well. Outside, everyone would be new and unknown. Inside there are the “cheese” and this is where we want to stay. Even if it can cost us our lives.
We are trapped in our lives and may have been for a long time – not realized and unnoticed. We sit inside like in a cage, the “cheese” is awfully close to us and we can see the “outside” only through the bars. But we do not even notice the trap, the cage, because we are so used to it. Its protective bars even give us security. And we do not realize that this sense of security is just a trap itself.
Then we carefully nibble on the “cheese”. Just enough to give us a little bit of happiness. If we do not want much more, everything seems fine. At least in the cage. It looks different outside.
We know this. But what can we expect outside? We can see it through the bars. No limits, freedom, no familiar surroundings and, no “cheese”. At least not visible at first glance. From what should we live? What nourishes us? Where are the usual limits and restrictions?
Can we survive there? Without “cheese”? Where should we turn? How far can we go What happens when we no longer see the way and know what to expect …?
Despite an urge to explore you feel okay inside. We know what we have there. And what we do not have.
It is never too late to open the door. Cheese or not…
The trap seen from the outside
But how is it outside of the trap? Known unknown.
We saw it through the bars but did not experience it. And now we are outside. Intentionally or unintentionally. Suddenly, we are on the other side. How to find our way?
Where to turn to? Where are the usual ways? What gives us the supposed security? So where is the “cheese”?
Sometimes the gaze longingly goes back through the bars into the cage. Go back? Stay outside? Discover the unknown?
Step by step we dare to go further and notice that something new is waiting for us outside. First, we take cautious steps. Just not too far. And it pulls us back towards the trap like a magnet. But the longer we manage to stay outside, the more we must oppose this move back. The feeling of freedom combined with sentimentality for the past. But with each passing day, with each step further, the trap fades and loses its attraction.
There are surprises in every direction we go. Many good ones, sometimes negative ones, but new ones. We can decide for ourselves where we want to turn and how far we want to go.
There are no bars that limit us, only the bars that we set ourselves and we can reinstall them every day until we no longer need them.
In the beginning they are still helpful because this is what we are used to, but over time everything becomes much more exciting without them. At some point we are so brave that we throw the key to the trap away. Then we are free because there is no turning back.
And the most important. We find cheese all over our discoveries and we can take as much of them as we want.
Outside is our own life.
Annette Muller is a property developer living in Zurich, Switzerland.