Adapting to this new way of living. We all are. Home now, I’m learning to inhabit altered intersections of time and space. Following various veins of social and news media, the cry of despair and boredom can’t be ignored. But it isn’t my own experience.
I suspect it isn’t for many people, continuing to work so very hard to keep supporting the planting of food crops, vital food chains, addictions services, police services, online education, delivery services of all kinds, old and emerging, policy work at every level of government, shifting arts and entertainment strategies, and of course, health services of every sort, from long term care homes to paramedicine to emergency departments and intensive care units to public health units. The list is long. I’ve missed too many I’m sure.
And people continue to do this work from their homes, as they can, attending virtual meetings and using VPNs, with their children and partners and extended family members to care for, in the same, increasingly restricted spaces. And some people are working from a home where they are completely alone. And some people don’t have a home to go to.
The cry of despair and boredom wailing from the internet is hard to ignore, hard to sympathize with, and also, hard to believe. But the internet is never a good representation of universal truth is it? Except to say that humans love cats and pornography the world over.
More problematic is the internet’s shriek of boredom paired with another pressure: to be creative. The message has been clear: use these yawning weeks of time to finally work on the projects we’ve always wanted to. But if spare time is a myth for so many, then creatives need recognise the promise of creative productivity, in the time of coronavirus, as what it is: a wispy curl of mist on a receding horizon.
Instead of choking ourselves on the smoking embers of our creative fires, so suddenly doused by the pandemic, we need to forgive ourselves. We need, instead, to be present and engaged. Creatives need to witness. Creatives need to experience.
Before now, communities lived through disruptions not unlike this one: other disease outbreaks; weather related calamites; earthquakes; tidal waves; wars. People suffering those situations were similarly stunned by their forced submissions. More so, by the tragedy of lives lost. Right now, we are in crisis. And crisis demands attention, vigilance and focus.
In time, and with distance from the here and now, as with the slow turning of the seasons or the harvesting of meaning from memory, art will bloom again.
Forgive ourselves for not forcing what cannot happen right now. The spark of creativity glows in all of us. It will fire again, in a time which is different for each and every one us. Process—the way we make meaning of our experiences by creating something new, something that moves through us as synthesis—is as unique as our fingerprints.