Lockdown 2: Hope For A Change
Do you ever feel like drowning? I do a lot. Mostly now that life seems to be endlessly the same every day. I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he was telling me about how everything in his life that happened before today has almost become completely redundant. I totally get what he was trying to say, not necessarily that life before today didn’t matter, it certainly did. But when something catastrophic happens, you don’t think so much about before. It’s almost as if the past loses the importance it once had and you kind of feel guilty about it. You lose the will to live on the day the world goes mad and your life turns upside down. The day in which joy becomes a cry for help at a distance.
Three months later and I still have that same feeling, pressing hard into my gut until I feel the knot tightening in my throat whenever I remember how everything used to be. I start to think that maybe life never was that plain and simple, maybe I have been asleep, and now I’m awake, and I’m finally facing life how it should be. Three months later and I keep doing everything the same. I’ve literally been spending the last three months inside an apartment in South London, locked up in a room and I’ve started talking to the walls around me. I think I’ve lost track of time. Am I going mad? I think we’re all mad here anyway. I’ve got to a point, I don’t really care anymore, as if I’m half-dead or something. I’ve never felt this way before. This new feeling traps me inside and makes me just forget how everything used to be.
How happy and in control of life, I was, or so I thought. I used to take going to a cafe for granted, even if it was just a necessity. Sometimes, I’d bump into someone at the entrance, spill coffee all over their shirt and ruin their day for good or I’d actually go out and meet people, make friends and then go about my day. I keep finding myself at that moment, I get on the train to Central London and find it overly packed. I don’t know how much I’d miss the buzz and the rush of those streets – people going in and coming out of the shops, into the pub; seeing women, formally dressed, high heels on, getting on the DLR to go to Canary Wharf. You’ve got a really nice bag, Miss. I get off the train and head to West End, where its flashy lights and large posters announce when the next big production is coming to the stage. I get to the theatre. I come to watch Florian Zeller’s The Son. I sit down on the stalls, seat 20, row D and I take a moment to look around and appreciate how glorious and magical this place is. I wonder how old it might be. It has probably been around since the 18th century, perhaps more, I’m not quite sure. I wonder how big it is, how many rows are there in the stalls, the royal circle and the grand circle. I lift my head up to the ceiling and I can see it, a fresh painting like the ones Michael Angelo used to paint. I see cherubim pointing an arrow towards a semi-naked woman who seems to be panting. She’s rolling her eyes. The background is covered in clouds and everything else is blue. I look at her and I sympathise. I can feel her pain. I understand how she’s feeling. Then the lights go down and I know the play is about to begin. Once the play is over, I walk out, not through stage door because that’s for actors, I walk out of the theatre through the main entrance along with everybody else. It’s just the joy of watching something so refreshing, so very much alive, that catches up with me and I’m in a complete state of bliss.
Looking back now, I think about how that place has the ability to revive in me everything that has been lost – the places I won’t get to visit anymore, the people I won’t get to see or the things I left unsaid, the moments that have been diluted in the hourglass of time. It never crossed my mind that whenever I feel myself drowning, I picture that stage in my head, that moment of bliss and I can see myself in it breaking the hourglass and reverting back time so at least, I can hope, it’d give me a last chance to say goodbye. It’d give me the time I need to go back and say what I meant to say and do what I was supposed to do. The stage provides the world with an attempt to redeem ourselves. Today when COVID has taken control over our lives when I turn on the news, and I’ve got to watch the hills in California burning, those same hills that were home to me during my time abroad, I wonder if there’s anything in my lifestyle I would change. The recent explosion in Beirut has taken away the lives of so many people, while mine keeps going. Even now, the not so distant past looks like years away from the present I’m living, the future that was coming. When I’m in my room and I open the window to look outside, I think about what’s left out there and I feel useless. Is this what we want for ourselves, for the future generations to look back and remember?
And then, I remember the stage. We need salvation. If we’re not taking care of each other and nature, if we’re going to destroy everything, at least let this be it – the only thing left that is very much alive. The only thing that makes us remember. Before closing the window, I ask myself ‘Is art our hope for a change?’ I hold on to that thought and the certainty I have that it’ll be okay. It has to.
© photo from Unsplash
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