The title of my newest book, THE LIVES WE LOST, doesn't just refer to the loved ones the main characters and her friends have lost to the epidemic. It's also about the loss of their way of life: all the facets of the modern world they took for granted, which are no longer possible when society has been reduced to small pockets of survivors.
Which has made me wonder, what parts of the life I take for granted would I miss the most in the same situation? Many aspects would be difficult for anyone --- going without electricity, having to scrounge for food and sources of heat, deciding who to trust --- and of course there are lots of luxuries I'd miss, but what would hit me personally the hardest? It's impossible to know for sure, and hopefully I'll never have to find out, but here's what I think I'd most hate to go without:
- Of all the most practical concerns, medical care. I can imagine getting by without electricity, heating systems, store-bought food and tap water. But losing modern medical resources would scare me a lot. Particularly because I hope to have kids at some point, and the idea of going through pregnancy and birth without the usual medical equipment or possibly even a trained doctor is rather terrifying! A lot of us have a rudimentary idea of basic survival skills like building shelters, getting a fire going, growing plants for food, and finding clean water, but how many survivors would have more medical knowledge than how to put a bandaid on a scratch?
- Of the luxuries I have available to me, the internet. I think I could manage without all the other (albeit wonderful) functions computers can provide. But I'm the sort of person who vastly prefers to have as much information as possible, especially in a bad situation, so not being able to search for news from other parts of the city, country or world would be difficult to take. And on top of that, it's online that I've met most of my closest friends, the people I can relate to best; the internet communities I'm a part in, among other writers and readers and genre fans, are often where I feel most at home. To be cut off from those social groups and their support, I'd feel as isolated as Kaelyn does on her quarantined island.
- On a societal level, a breadth of perspectives. I grew up exposed to and engaging with a wealth of ideas. In school we learned about the history and culture of all different countries. I can see movies and listen to music from around the world. I can read or listen to the thoughts of people from all different races, sexual orientations and backgrounds. In a world where most of the connections between places have broken down, where most people don't have time for much beyond working toward surviving and perhaps a few moments of simple leisure here and there, I have to guess that few will have the energy or means to seek out other perspectives. To speak up for the rights of those who are less privileged. To care, really, about other people beyond their close family and friends. I can understand why it would happen, but to lose that chance to understand and connect with each other seems like on of the greatest losses there could be.
If you'd like, take a moment to think and share your perspective. What would you find most hard to lose, in a world that's fallen apart?