Life in the usually bustling metropolis of London, is still as weird as it was a year ago — relative to our neighbours across the rest of the world. Closed shops and subdued high-streets. Masked strangers with eyes full of suspicion of the unmasked amongst them (just imagine that scenario for a second — circa 2018). Panic rising like mercury and hearts skipping beats at the sound of two consecutive coughs — not to mention a sneeze. A romance renaissance via virtual dating. When I rock up alone at the supermarket, it has become inevitable that I’ll spend some time scowling at the empty shelves where the hand sanitiser or vitamin D used to be. In those moments, I tune into the soundtrack playing in my mind, nodding my head as I hear ‘clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am’ — and wonder, what kind of fuckery is this!
Things feeling heavy, a little chaotic, weirdly fascinating — is pretty much life by its usual standard. Homeschooling my kids — is still unusual for the three of us, and still — not my forte. Under lock-down, trying to maintain our mental, physical, emotional, social and spiritual health and well-being in the places we call home — is testing. I am a homebody, content in my own company, but being bound to the house by law — triggers my defiant streak. When my heart is running low, I’m fuelled by sugar and vivid dreams, music and thoughts of defying gravity. Sometimes, being human feels like being a part of a lifelong experiment of survival against all odds.
The more life seems to change, the more humans — (mis)behave the same. These collectives we call societies, can’t seem to shake off behavioural traits — that keep us primed to devolve. What a time to feel so hyper-connected and still alone. The paradox is real. There is a strange familiarity about these days, a knowing that we have persevered through harsh times before. The air is as pungent with weariness, distrust, hope and desperation — as the cocktail of pollution and assortments of meats and fish on display at the markets in Choumert road and Rye Lane in Peckham. There, to my mind, I spent too much of my childhood obligated to follow my mum around and carry the bags as they filled to capacity — and their weight tried to coax my arms from their sockets.
My head spins as people/I run amok in circles — thinking about thinking. We are scattered like islands surrounded by choppy waters — trying not to fall in. Living on edge with suspended breaths as memories of how to swim — fade and lives resemble the art of drowning. Every morning, the absurdity of our reality persists. The images of people bathed in subtle, spring sunlight and perceived petulance, gathered into crowds in the parks or at the beach clinging to some semblance of normality — are beamed around the world to receive our judgement. It seems we’ve entered into a social agreement about who will be cast as the villains of this piece. But, is anyone to blame for risking it all — trying to live? The talk of every town — is there’s a messiah inside a syringe here to save us all from ourselves now. I remain somewhat exasperated and unconvinced and curious about where we’re heading.
For now, clarity sounds like a dirty word. Myths masquerade as truths. Common sense? Forget about it. There is a flood of life and revolt running through my veins as my soul chants into the abyss ‘the drugs don’t work’ — and things may slowly get better but first they may get worse. What does progress look like to you? Things have evolved but have they actually progressed? Who wants to be a modern cave person? Surviving with the (in)convenience of Zoom and without the tenderness of human touch and the light of the sun and the moon. Every year, the Universe allows a little space dust to break through the Earths atmosphere and sprinkle over us like a chef seasoning their signature dish. People, in turn, determined to push the envelope — are said to be a few years away from launching humans further into space on a lunar expedition around the moon. These are all wonder years, despite being kept apart to handle cruel summers and savage winters alone.
What matters to you? What matters to me? Improving the quality of life — matters to all of us. Choice — is still key. We’ve become receptacles for, sensationalism, (mis)information and propagandized fear. What is the tipping point? I watch on at how quickly we’ve become desensitised to daily reports of worldwide, sudden deaths — as if we don’t know there is a life story behind each one of those numbers. Perhaps we’ve already slipped into hell. Overloaded, saturated like the heaviest rain-clouds, ready to rain our imploding brains out. After all, everything is clearer — after the rain.
Something like restlessness and frustration crawls beneath my skin. I know I can’t be the only one unnerved — by the insidious cajoling of masses of people to bend to the will of those that govern. When people ask ‘What is the solution?’ I don’t pretend to have the answers. I have a million questions. I stare blankly back into their eyes then up and in awe of the sky — waiting for the stars to appear as I sigh. I’m wondering if, when we do eventually rebuild from the devastation and disruption, we will make something better than it was before? All of our human parts — our light and dark sides — are showing. Will we be better humans than we were? I can’t stand the rain, but I’m silently hoping — it rains tonight.