We’re telling ourselves this fairytale: Once upon a time, everything was beautiful, and not only can once upon a time turn into today, but also the transformation is up to us. We can’t control the virus, we can’t control the government, we can’t even control whether our faraway family members and friends stay safe and inside. But we can control our own individual existences by making them that much less complicated than an outside world we’re not even allowed to live in anymore. Or at least we can trick ourselves into believing we’re in control.

Of course, most of us are only interested in renouncing the comforts of modern-day living when those comforts aren’t available to us anyway — and “giving up” some comforts is only fun to those who are comfortable to start with. You’re probably not spending the evening hours putting the final touches on embroidered pillow-covering when you’re worried about feeding your family, and you can’t curl up by the fire with a dusty old book when you don’t have a house, let alone a fireplace. You definitely can’t do it if you’re on a ventilator.

The whole illusion, in other words, is a luxury.