By Autumn Moon

It’s difficult to convey how it feels to be alive during this time. 

A few months ago, life was simple. I was a regular college freshman starting my second semester. I was meeting new people, having new experiences and trying to find myself. My biggest woes were dining hall food and homework. 

Things changed almost overnight with the outbreak of COVID-19.

In the blink of an eye, life as I knew it seemed to disappear; almost every university student in the nation was sent home for the rest of the semester, travel bans plagued airports and non-essential businesses shut down. Supermarkets saw shortages of necessities and sports leagues cancelled their seasons. The stock market crumbled. Each day brought a new challenge, mass hysteria becoming more contagious than the disease itself.

In our regular routines, it’s easy to forget that life is finite, fragile and precious. Coronavirus has managed to remind us how easily everything can come crashing down. It has caused life to implode, and we are left to pick up the pieces. Together.

We are left with an empty space now, a blank page. As the disease rages on, we have been given a chance to rewrite life as we know it.

It’s difficult to see any positive side of this frightening time. Yet, this horrifying pandemic has forced me to consider so many things I hadn’t before: the impact I have in the world, my place in it (not as an individual, but as a human part of something bigger), the beauty in simple things and a greater appreciation for what I have. 

The fact that a pandemic exists is not reason for celebration. It is heart wrenching. It is painful. It is terrifying to wonder if you and those you love will survive.

But for all the lives this disease has taken, it has also given so much back.

I have never had so much time; time to ponder, time to love, time to wonder, time to breathe, time to observe, time to be. I may not know what tomorrow brings, but if this illness has taught me anything, it’s that every single day is a gift.

I’ve done more little things that make me happy in my two weeks of quarantine than I have in a long time. Don’t get me wrong — I really miss my friends, my school, going out and regular life. Yet, there is a silver lining in all of this. The pandemic has given us the chance to re-evaluate what makes us human. 

My heart goes out to those suffering during this time because it would be ignorant not to acknowledge that it is harder for some people than for others. This situation isn’t easy by any means, but, sprouting from all the pain is incredible human goodness. People are realizing that they are not the only ones in this world, and that every day, individual sacrifices make the world a lot better as a whole.

This morning, slits of light from the sun peeking through my shades woke me up. I sat up for a moment, and the light shrouded my room in a hazy glow. My hair fell in messy pools at my shoulder. I clenched my fists, my veins pulsating slowly. 

My mind was empty and full all at once, and in that moment, I was never happier to be alive.