Jokes are Half-Meant: Musings, Meditation, and the Pandemic

Submitted into Contest #113 in response to: Start or end your story with the line ‘This is my worst nightmare.’... view prompt


Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Inspirational

This is my worst nightmare!

What is it?

The COVID19 pandemic!

It’s what most people would call a nightmare –

Well, isn’t it? People are anxious and scared everywhere!

Maybe we would be more hopeful if we focused on the number of recoveries rather than the deaths from the virus.

Yeah, okay, but I mean! We’ve only read about smallpox and Spanish flu in history books. Like, no, that’s history, it can’t happen to us. Like we’re so scientifically advanced to be hit by any pandemic!

Well, now we’re part of history, too! Laughs.

Not really funny.

Narrows eyes. I still think it’s a political conspiracy of some sort, trying to control people. Look how all these variants, which are supposedly more deadly, came up just as soon as vaccines were made. It’s as if they’re trying to keep the people in fear.

Try saying that to the medical frontliners and they might just kill you.

Yeah, well, you know why a lot of doctors die from COVID19? Because doctors are not taught to take care of themselves! They have the firearms but they don’t have the armor!

What are you talking about? The cumbersome PPE – like they were mascots or robots – isn’t that armor enough?

Basic defenses, pal! I’m talking about basic defenses!

What do you mean?

Look at it this way. When you’re in a plane, you’re instructed to put on your oxygen mask before anyone else’s. Makes sense, right? How are you gonna save other people if you’re dead? So, why are sleepless nights, missed meals, and 24-hour duties – or longer – tolerated in medicine? Their defenses are down and they are exposed to the virus and you expect them to survive? Heroic self-sacrifice is bullshit. It masks the underlying toxicity in the medical system.

Eyes wide. Wow. That’s coming from somewhere, pal, considering that you’re a doctor.

Sighs. Medical training is a traitor. We are taught to take care of other people at the expense of ourselves. How can you pour from an empty cup?

Eyes still wide. Wow. I guess the pandemic really hit you. I mean, bigtime, pal! That’s like, a whole, new perspective from you!

Laughs. Weren’t you the one who’s supposed to be having a tirade?

Now I feel better, pal! Laughs.

Laughs. But seriously, I think the pandemic has done better for us than anything.

What do you mean?

Well, if you look back, you would know that it’s what we needed at this time.


Late February, 2020, via Text Messages

You’re not telling me something, Green! I’m done with you and all of your games!

Green – my best friend – blocked. But he finds another way to communicate in the web of digital media.

I don’t know what you’re talking about. We’ve all just been joking!

You know how it feels, Green? The very people I loved played games on me and the joke was on me.

Honestly, I can’t believe you took all of that seriously.

Your jokes meant something else, Green! You better tell me the truth right now!

I don’t know what you’re talking about and that’s the truth!

You can’t look me in the eye because I can see through all of your lies!

You’ve misinterpreted the jokes. They didn’t mean anything!

You know what’s going on in my mind, Green? Am I so stupid not to recognize which statements are jokes and which aren’t? Okay, maybe I’m stupid, but I don’t think that I’m SOOOOO stupid not to know!

I don’t think you’re stupid, either, and that’s why I can’t understand why you’re reacting this way!

Something’s going on, Green, and you better tell me!

I don’t have anything to tell you! I’m sorry if you feel this way, but we didn’t intend to hurt you. Believe me!

I’m like a wife who suspects that her husband has a mistress. I don’t know why I know and I don’t have any evidence to prove it, but I KNOW that something isn’t right.

Yeah, I believe that – intuition.

You want me to be blatantly honest, Green? My intuition tells me that you’re a fuckin’ liar! Fuck all of you!

Hey, don’t curse me or any of us!

Well, don’t push me way beyond my limits! You already have! I feel like I’m losing my sanity, Green, and I can walk away from all of you because you’re not healthy for me anymore!

And I did. I walked away from Green, from all of my friends who were second family to me. I left group chats. I disengaged myself from people I loved. They tried to reach me. They tried to talk to me personally. But COVID19 never let it happen.


I guess I did social distancing even before it became the norm! Laughs.

Nods. Physical and virtual distancing – It’s not what you wanted, but it’s what you needed.

I never realized how toxic my friends were until I disengaged myself from them. I really loved them, but they were draining my energy.

Still, a part of you resonated with that toxicity. You needed to heal and grow.

Thinking about it, I wasn’t ready to see them that time. I wouldn’t have handled my emotions well. But neither do I feel ready to see them anytime soon, or ever again. I don’t want to go back to the toxicity.

That’s why you need to heal the part of you that allowed that toxicity. You have emotions to process and wounds to heal, and that’s okay.

Sometimes, I still wonder if their jokes weren’t really half-meant. They felt so real to me.

Maybe you misinterpreted them, but that doesn’t invalidate your feelings. You were not wrong to have those feelings.

And I was sure that I was right about all of it! It was illogical to interpret their jokes that way, but I thought I was following my intuition! Something just didn’t feel right.

If there was anything right about your intuition, it was that you needed to disconnect from them to find yourself again. You made the right decision.

Did I really? I still feel ashamed of how I’ve acted. And that’s why I think that I can’t ever face all of them again.

You did your best at the level of consciousness you were in at that time, and that’s okay. There’s no shame in being authentic and true to yourself and to what you had been feeling.

Maybe I’ll never get to know what their jokes really meant, but I know that I was divinely guided and supported at that time.

At that time AND always. You are always exactly where you need to be at any moment, even if it’s uncomfortable.

When I think about life, it’s like a cycle within a cycle within a cycle within a cycle… kind of like a Russian doll?

Yes, nature is full of cycles – the menstrual cycle, the cycle of day and night, the moon phases, the seasons… your life itself mimics those cycles.

What do you mean?

Look back in your life. With every changing of a decade, you undergo a period of pain, growth, and transformation. Where you are now is a place of darkness, but it is no different from the cycles of nature.

A cycle of death to make space for the new. Like how dead leaves fall off from a tree while new buds come out.

Yes. That is how we are one with the Universe. Your next season will bear much fruit. You have been doing the work. Be patient.

I put my hands in Anjali mudra, then place them over my third eye – in between the eyebrows – then bow deeply to close my meditation practice. 

October 01, 2021 07:16

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