I’m writing this from my little apartment in Barcelona, Spain.
It has been two weeks since we went on total lockdown, and, despite the turmoil, I’m beginning to make peace with these exceptional times.
The weather has been atypical, cold and grey, but today the sun came out and reminded us that nothing is permanent.
I know many have only started navigating this new reality, and for many others the weather is always cold and grey. So this is me, attempting to give hope to those in need of comfort and beauty, to those who can’t feel the sun on their skin, to those who are struggling in the midst of chaos. This is me, attempting to paint this global canvas of grief with vivid colours.
All over Spain, and other countries as well, people clap from their windows and balconies every day at 8 p.m. in honour of the workers in the healthcare system, who are working nonstop to save lives. The city is fairly quiet during the day. But at that exact time, the buildings come back to life as everyone steps out, and the clapping and cheering engulf you like a warm bath. We get sick together, and we recover together.
The other time when the silence is broken in my area is at 1 p.m., when a Canadian woman starts singing and playing the piano not far from my apartment. I can’t see her, but I can hear her. She’s been doing this since the lockdown began, and now, every day, a little girl who lives in her same street peeks her head out the window and starts shouting hello right before she starts. I picture her counting the minutes and getting excited as the time approaches.
The Canadian woman’s name is Jennifer. That’s all I know about her, besides the fact that she plays and sings for strangers whose language she doesn’t speak. In times like this, music becomes a universal language and speaks to our soul. And our soul is hungry for it.
Life has slowed down, and yes, there is a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of grief, but the air is fresher than ever, birds still sing from the trees, wild boars and ducks and peacocks roam freely on the streets, people do yoga in their homes and paint and draw and play guitar and some, like me, are writing again.
When life slows down, creativity flourishes. When life slows down, we realise the pace we were dancing to was killing the planet and us with it. When life slows down, we start to wonder if, perhaps, there is another way of living that allows us all to breathe fresh air and access our creativity and touch people’s hearts—even if we don’t speak their language.
There must be a time for grieving and room for sadness. We need those. I have cried for people I’ve never known. I’ve felt anger. I’ve had moments when I felt I was suffocating because I couldn’t go out and sit on the sand or by the trees. I have worried about money, about loved ones, about the future.
But ultimately, all we have left is a moment-to-moment choice: to stay in that place where darkness lives…or choose to see the beauty. And even in the darkest times, we are surrounded by beauty.
This will pass, and we have the chance to come out of it together, stronger, connected as a global community, rather than individual people in individual countries—because we are all one under the great sky.