UCA Collective Writing project
INTO THAT GENTLE LOCKDOWN
Into that gentle lockdown, sighs were heard, confined once more; hearts fluttered, and minds thundered. It has been months now, but we cannot despair, out of the dark there is light. I had managed to keep sane during the first one, now though harder, despair is to be kept at bay. Out all of the things that made the leaves sing, the sea chant and clouds dance; I have failed to not find it in my bosom. Within in, my heart beats of a raison de vivre composed of poesy. This is what shall save us from despair; beauty commingled with hope! Unlike our dear John Keats, let us not cry because our sweet dove died, but because it has lived a good life; as he not written odes to hope? Are we not creatures of adaptableness? Apex not because we are the strongest, but because we interfere with chaos and trail our own wakes. If so, then let us interfere once more with chaos! Let us walk our own paths! Let us embrace the situation and let us not cave into that gentle lockdown.
HERE WE GO AGAIN…
Staying in my room, looking out of the window, I cannot help but think out loud: if I had been told, a year ago, that life would entirely change in a blink of an eye, would I have believed it? What would I have done, if I had known that on this very same day, twelve months later, I would have already undergone yet another curfew and that I would be entering a second lockdown? No more late night drinks, no more dinners at the restaurant with my friends, no more partying in the dead of night, no more promenades to clear my head after a tough day, no more talking to strangers with my mask off— literally.
If I had known, perhaps I would have dreaded this time. Or perhaps I would have simply tried my best to make the most of my temporary freedom. What really matters now however is not the past, but the present. Only one question resonates in my mind: what now? Where has our normal life gone? Is it ever coming back?
It was only a year ago that I was roaming the streets of London without a single care in the world. I now find it hard to believe, for it suddenly seems so unreal.
We were free, back then. Not only free not to wear masks— or to go outside. Not only free to organize events— or to go on holidays. Not only free to meet with our friends— or to party with strangers. We were free, back then. Nothing but free. Free to be. Free to do. Free to live. And yet, look at the world of today: overcrowded hospitals forced to choose to save a patient over another one, Emergency Department doctors spending most of their nights on TV sets, more and more people being victims of redundancy on economic grounds day after day… Look at the dark world of today. I barely even think about the future: what is the point of trying to picture it anyway? It is unlikely that this situation shall last forever, but the real question is, how long will it take, until it is sorted out for good?
It was only a year ago that I was roaming the streets of London without a single care in the world. Scientists say that memories fade over time, just like old photographs: will those ones fade too?
On the Promenade, chairs and benches have been removed. Like a border that is removed, allowing for fluid flows of steps and thoughts. A clean slate for new wanderings where strolling takes on an unwonted sense of urgency, perhaps. The ground shows the scars of the old world, like old borders on a map renegotiated after a war; but the lines and holes might soon disappear with the wear and tear of time doing its unstoppable work—spaces forgotten by the march of History.
Borders between the daily allowance of well-regulated exercise, and the momentary release from the pandemic mode.
Borderland between the hegemony of science and its inability to give clear and definite answers. Borderland between habit and learning, weariness and expectancy, compliance and defiance.
The border between death and life has to be inspected every day; containment on one side or the other is necessary, yet increasingly perilous.
In the borderland between the past lockdown and a possible season 3, what is left of our lives and its familiar and cherished territories? Existence reduced to the frontier experience, with its victories and setbacks, assaults and retreats, romances and separations. We try to peer into the future but are relentlessly brought back to a present that upholds stormy borderlands between hope and despair, truth and fake news, freedom and carelessness, responsibility and accountability, ignorance and awareness.
On the fringe of danger, we come and go.
And I remember those lines from T. S. Eliot’s poem The Waste Land:
“I sat upon the shore
Fishing, with the arid plain behind me
Shall I at least set my lands in order?”