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A reflection in the mirror

With the opticians still open, it was time to order the glasses for which a prescription had been lying in my wallet for a few weeks. There were not many people, and the store was struggling to liven up the street on its own. It was still nice to see a curtain up and light inside. I was delighted to find a correct view and to find a frame that I like.

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I asked the optician if I could try this one, and maybe this one too, and despite her amiable “sure”, I felt I pissed her off a bit. She watched my movements, sorted the frames (four or five, not twenty!) After I had placed them on the shelf. In front of my questioning gaze, she explained to me: “I have to disinfect everything you touch”. It calmed my ardor. Nothing made me want to anymore. And anyway, with a mask, eyeglass frame, or whatever, it didn’t make much of a difference. I decided to only change the glasses.

A young woman around me, to whom I asked for news of her new position, replied that her assumption of duties, two months earlier, had been complicated by health precautions. “I couldn’t organize a drink when I arrived. I visited everyone in the ward one by one, but I didn’t see anyone’s face. Only the eyes. If I passed a colleague without his mask, I wouldn’t recognize him. And then what’s the point of having lunch in the canteen, where it is forbidden to sit face to face? Rather than finding themselves staring into space in front of anyone, everyone brings their tray up to their office and eats cold while answering their emails. “ I should point out that she is in an administration which can hardly practice remote work.

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As otherwise, even masked, we now see far fewer people than usual, and not always those we would have chosen if we had been asked to point them out ourselves, another question creeps into our concern. In addition to the health risk, which must take precedence, there is a risk that I call identity. What does it mean to give up choosing glasses if you can’t recognize yourself in the mirror? How to compensate for the loss of substance imposed by wearing a mask and taking a distance everywhere, always, including at work?

The adolescents around us are hampered in their first choices, those choices which outline the contours of the adult they tended to become. Here he is a 13-year-old footballer, whose training and competitions are suspended; there he is a 15-year-old guitarist whose amateur orchestra is exhausted in rehearsing in “visio” and gives up without having decided. Here it is the 18 years of the eldest that we celebrate in a very small group, while her first year of university abroad is finally done from her child’s room, alone in front of her screen, sharply reducing student life. the content of the teaching. And how do you bring a budding love to life, when you only see each other by Skype?

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“It’s hard to be 20 in 2020”, underlined President Macron last month (October 14), before listing the measures taken to ensure that young people are as little as possible restricted in their ambitions, forced to revise their choices. Many mocked this remark, as if the sacrifices imposed were only illustrated in the closing of bars and the momentary end of the holidays. But we are no longer there. Even if each of us always advances towards the unknown, I remember with what fever, at 20 years old, I looked in the mirror for the uncertain reflection of the one I wanted to become, but I never had the impression that the future advanced masked.


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