I’m fine, truly I am. The world has gone mad, a plague is upon us, we dig deep, we smile and wish each other well … we can do this! We can, we will and blah … Sunday night (is it Sunday) and if we have to be honest … this is bloody awful.
Take it from someone who has chosen optimism ( a dear phrase) in the darkness that has clouded our lives. Been through worse, she says, this is nothing compared to the chapters in a long life that one would rather skip over. This is a but a new challenge … a foreign challenge we have no answers too … and there are the moments, and we are entitled to them. Be kind to yourself.
In the five weeks of isolation and devoid of physical contact, the days began with ‘I shall build a puzzle’ and do all the things I never had time to do right? Watch movies in the afternoon, eat pasta for breakfast, have wine at two in the afternoon – all rather marooned on an island kind of thing. We use a razor (this is another story), we tap into thinking our scary hair will empower us – sans all the little lovelies we used to do, are hanging for a while. The memes flood my inbox, laugh and keep that cheery disposition amidst the silent blaming and thinking, it’s just for a while. Then things like ‘hang in there, the war lasted four years, Anne Frank hid for five years’ sort of things keep coming my way and I am armoured for the days when I don’t really know what day it is and the news just does not get better. And then I think, shall I always try to be optimistic, or shall I just be honest and say … this is bullshit, but deal with it anyway.
The new normal. Accustomed to isolated routine. Apart from flattening the curve, it has also flattened who we are. Our lives, our individuality is flattened for habits that make us unique. I like my coffee this way, take this bus, walk along this street, meet in this pub and so forth … we are not allowed, so we become levelled in that … all together in the doing little, worrying about money and jobs, and family and death … we worry about that. Not so much before, classical, universal issues were something we didn’t have to confront at the time … and Sunday nights, this is what I think about.
I cannot face another puzzle. Truth. I cannot bear to think that this will go on forever, be excited about making masks out of fabric and stand two hundred feet from another. That Paris and London are like other cities, zombie fashion of desolation – that galleries lie quiet and eerie. People running out of food. It all seems too gastly, even with the cheerful upper lip fixed firmly.
And then, and then. The sunlight hit my little pineapple. A gift from my special friends when I left London a few months ago. For a little while. And I had to just stand, look at it and think for a moment. That little pineapple represents all the pineapples found around London. A time when life was exceptionally difficult, life was tenuous, grief all around and for those that could afford it, a pineapple was a token of wealth, of prosperity. Could cost you up to 350 pounds. If no pineapple was to be had, to rent it, print it on wallpaper, fabrics, mould the form into plaster casts on walls, in gardens … all about the pineapple. Even on the tips of St. Paul’s cathedral they are, in gold. Aspiring to the pineapple. Who would have thought?
In 1664 London was plagued. ‘Ring-a-Ring O roses” … we all fall down. This is not new to civilisation – we are in a new plague and we shall survive and I look at the pineapple and think … it is history that will define us. We are making history now, and how we deal with it, will be the making of us. And the beginning of us again. Delving deep into history is the way forward, for we have faltered, and cried, lamented and feared before. Be it the plague, the pestilence, the wars and now another form of onslaught, I look at my little pineapple and think how life re-built before. To better things. To Sir Christopher Wren and other architects, to scientists and key essential workers, out there, not just dealing but planning to make it better.
My Sunday blah … anxiety and worry is what so many felt before me, when life went crazy and we didn’t know the answers. Like now. I don’t know, I can’t solve it and I have to believe. I have to have faith that it will pass and it will. History is a great teacher.
A new normal. Being present. Not listening to the doom sayers. Being occupied and planning for next week, next month and next year. It is going to be fine, going to be good – going to be different but we can deal with that. Not, and not again I say, be excited about a puzzle or food, or wine, or tokens of making it through another day … making it matter when the world is struggling, I am struggling but I am going to be the best, the most amazing maker of a new time.
For now, in my line of business, times are really tough. Tourism will take a long time to recover. But it will… we will always want to explore the world, learn more about our cities, our landscapes, our history and how we fit into it all … it will recover and I will be ready, despite the Sunday blues, it will be the best time to show others what was, the pineapples and how we are survivors, like those before us, to make a new normal – be the best time we live in. Sunday night and I am thinking about the Churchillian in me … and I will be sharing it with you soon. London will be even more magnificent …the world will be new, and magnificent. Trust on a Sunday night, is what I need to believe in. And I do.
Monday will be the optimistic day. Sunday blues are allowed … be kind to yourself, it will pass.
Keep safe, have the blues, and plan …