This pandemic has inspired a lot of introspection. In a recent Globe and Mail essay, writer Alice Irene Whittaker asked How will my children remember this pandemic?
Her conclusion inspires a lot of hope:
“I hope they remember how to ask a neighbour, “How are you?” and really listen to the answer. I hope they remember the slow pace of a week where the to-do list on the kitchen counter was never filled in. I hope they remember reading more books and baking more cookies, and how many things there are to learn outside of school. I hope they remember spending more time outside and how nature was our greatest solace.”
The Department of Imaginary Affairs wants to do more than just wonder about how we’ll look back on this time. The Toronto-based story collectors want us all to help them document it, as part of their new project Life in the time of COVID-19: A Time Capsule. They are inviting people from across the country to send along letters, stories, and, and artifacts from this moment, to be revealed to our future selves.
Participants are invited to write a letter to their future selves, to be read when the pandemic is over. If you like, they will email your letter (and any files you include) back to you, to make sure you don’t lose track of it. They offer an audio file to guide you through the exercise, or you can just read through the transcript if that suits you better. The instruction ends with this:
Paint a picture for your future self. Tell them where you are, what you’re thinking, how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, how you’re spending your days, and what you think is yet to come. That last piece, imagining the future, may feel tricky right now, when so much is uncertain. But what better time to imagine a new world than when so much of the current world is falling apart and falling away?
It’s always a good idea to make sure that when you look back on your life, you’ll feel like you were on the right side of history. Maybe this pandemic can help you develop that habit. If you are able to carry it with you, it will go a long way towards helping you build the world you want.