It’s hard to know what to say about life at the moment. My only certainty is uncertainty as we all continue to try to make sense of the strangeness of the times we find ourselves in. I know I’m not alone in feeling time become elastic, contracting and expanding. Days merge and I have to check where we’re up to in the week. Gardening, cooking, sewing have all come to the fore at this time; small, manageable domestic activities that are absorbing, creative and practical.
I’ve been writing. Having some structure to writing, making a plan, being consistent has been helpful. I’ve also been working with fellow artists, keeping projects going, pivoting to respond to the context, trying to keep a balance and not become overwhelmed either by the situation itself or the pressure to respond to it.
What has become clear is that arts and artists have been central to helping people keep some equilibrium and some quality to their lives. There has been a plethora of online offers; choirs, theatre productions, operas, stories, art and craft. In the first weeks there was a scramble to get work online. Much of that work has been given away for free, and that may have unforeseen negative consequences for the future.
A friend and supporter of my work sent me a beautiful message on receipt of a copy of A Requiem. I’ll share his words here as they have touched me deeply:
‘The days of performing will come back, and we’ll experience them like never before. I think this Covid-19 crisis is a call to arms, ie ‘hugging arms’ if you like, to heal and give hope to our communities. I think we are going to need all the music, and poetry, and art that we can muster to restore, and re-invigorate our communities. I hope that people begin to recognise THEIR artists as the key-workers that they, that you, truly are.’ Paul Cowgill.
My final thought today is of how badly I miss the sea and how much I look forward to being with and in it again as soon as possible.