There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
That’s the metaphor people are using, right? And with good reason. It’s an excellent metaphor.
I want to emphasize, before I go any further, that I have no actual experience of making my way through a dark tunnel and then seeing light at the end of it. Well, almost none—some roller coasters have something like that, at the beginning, but only for a few seconds. Most of the tunnels of my experience have been well-lit. I’ve never, just to be clear, had to escape from somewhere in a tunnel, or by tunneling. The metaphor is a vivid one, but not from my own experience.
Anyway, as I understand it, you’re in this tunnel, right? And it’s dark, or at least any light you have is being thrown by your own flashlight or lantern or torch, depending I guess on your own context for this image, maybe not even a little pool of light, just feeling your way through pitch blackness. And presumably, the tunnel curves to the side, left or right, goes down and then climbs back up, whatever—the metaphor, I think, does not allow us to be in a tunnel that we know like the backs of our proverbials. The tunnel goes from the present to the future, where we have not yet been. And then, at some point, you go around a turn or perhaps finish a climb, and then… you can see the light at the end of the proverbial.
You’re still in the tunnel! Maybe you have a long stretch of tunnel to pass through yet. The only thing that has changed is that you can see the light at the end of it. Which means that there’s no more turns in the tunnel—it’s a straight shot from here to that light source. It may be a long way away, but it’s no longer complicated. Probably.
Which, it seems to me, is exactly where we are in this pandemic. We’re still in it! We don’t know how much longer we will still be in it, but right now: ten thousand people in the country died from this disease in the past week. Forty thousand are in hospitals across the country right now. We have no idea how many contagious people are walking around. There are a lot of people who are protected against this disease, but also a lot of people who aren’t—in fact, there’s not really pessimistic to suggest that another twenty thousand people will contract it and die before we get out of the darkness and into the light.
On the other hand, we can see the end. We no longer have to guess where the turns are. We know all the steps that we need to take between here and there. We don’t know exactly when we will be stepping out into the light, or for that matter what it will look like once our eyes adjust, but we know it’s there and we know how to get there.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,