The Whelming of a Pandemic

Today I learnt that the word, ‘Whelm’ existed. I was never told I could ever be in a state of whelming, in an engulfed, buried state. The prefixes for the word — over and under are what I always described myself as, depending on what the situation called for. I was overwhelmed with the crushing weight of responsibilities and underwhelmed with the latest Netflix rom-com.

Today, I am whelmed.

Over me lies a thin veil, keeping me engulfed and separate from all that could have been in a distant world. Perhaps, I would have been overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia creeping in as I say goodbye to classmates I barely tolerated within four walls. Or maybe a job that demanded my time, energy, and will to meet, speak and talk to other people. These would-bes now remain away from me, kept apart by a polypropylene mask, big enough to whelm me.

Under me lies a bed of expectations, keeping me afloat enough to exist, but never catapulting me to thrive. Underwhelmed by the expectations I set for myself, of what I aimed and how I worked towards it. Underwhelmed by how much of a lending hand I could provide. Underwhelmed by the actions my mind and body give me energy for. Underwhelmed, and ungrateful.

It would be foolish to call the state of whelming, just the right amount. To have a numbing, universal experience of being crushed over the head with the weight of the world, and feeling the terrifying ambiguity of what lies beneath your feet in the ocean as you attempt to feel around till a floating being tingles your feet, all at the same time is far from feeling anything just the right amount. Whelming isn’t the in-between, it is the all-at-once. It is the crushing weight of what has been and what could have been, pushing you under a floor of what remains.

To be whelmed is to exist between an abyss and a heavy book of history. To conflict and console within yourself. To burn and soothe the future and the past. To crawl and lay on unfurnished dreams. To sleep and stare with eyes wide open at endless, — over and under — whelming possibilities. To breathe and be aware yet tired of every breath you take, without gasps, or laughter.

Today, I learnt that the word, ‘Whelmed’ existed.

Today, I am whelmed.

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