Toilet Paper And Masks

We are into the middle of 2020 (though given the nature of calendars, years defined by different cultures and traditions – ambiguity is close at hand).

It’s anywhere between a few months and 6 months that people around the world have, in one way or another, to one degree or another – been affected and impacted by Covid-19.

There is nowhere to run away to from 2020’s pandemic. Entire counties experienced radical, strictly imposed lockdowns. Within and beneath the surface facts are thousands of individual and deeply personal narratives: families separated, weddings cancelled, funerals that could not be attended or even take place, people dying in isolated hospital rooms, saying goodbye (if possible) via ‘face-time’.  Endless debates and discussion about the measures needed to combat the pandemic.

Right at the start there was the bizarre (global) phenomenon of frenzied panic purchasing of toilet paper and pasta.  There must still be homes around the world with stockpiles of unused toilet paper and pasta. Families tortured by endless pasta meals – but with the comforting knowledge that their toilets are toilet-paper secure for the foreseeable future.

Life in the time of Covid-19 quickly became surreal and remains so.

Yet after a time people grow accustomed to the surreal and the ‘sur’ drifts away leaving behind its orphaned ‘real’. Some time back the expression the ‘new normal’ entered the fabric of talking about how life is now. Shops reopened – but with restrictions (only so many people at once, mask wearing obligatory) Masks on public transport. Restaurants and cafes re-opened – but again with restrictions. Legally required distance between tables (including outside). What was a normal thing before the pandemic – going out for a meal – ceased to be an option for a few months. Now we can experience our ‘normal’ restaurant meal but as a ‘new normal’. Many things have returned yet with slightly different facets. The wearing of masks being the most visible and daily felt ingredient. 

How many times have I left home only to remember I had forgotten my wallet (or yes) or not got out the door before first having to search for those elusive keys? Now ‘damn, I forgot my mask’, ‘where did I put my mask’ has joined the daily ritual list.  

Many schools have reopened – the returned to normal has taken place yet again as a ‘new normal’. Classes are now half their size (distance requirements), the school schedule is completely different – learning at home, online has become embedded in curricula.

I find every small, spontaneous chat about some aspect of the impact of Covid-19 becomes a mind-blowing journey into the myriad of small links between small links that describe a small cluster of stuff we do in our daily life – and which we often took for granted before the pandemic kicked-in, and that now has become visible in all its complexity. Just writing that last sentence makes my mind spin. Basically – Life in the time of Covid-19 has shaken up everything, in ways unprecedented in post ww2 planet earth. And this is, in point of fact, just the beginning.

One of my own responses to Life in the time of Covid-19 has been to launch an online, collaborative multi-media project:

21 Fragments: LIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

It brings together a group of over 20 people (musicians, visual artists, poets, people who have embraced writing for the project, filmmakers) – and each week I present a ‘fragments’ – which brings together a picture, words, and music that in some way relates to our current pandemic defined times. Please check it out.

Be well -Stay safe

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