The first wave of shaking has given way to a surreal everyday life. So surreal that I’d like to believe it wasn’t even true. But the sick and dead from countries like Italy and Spain, who are close and familiar to us and always a few weeks ahead, make the pandemic very real. “When all is uncertain, all that is important becomes clear,” I read. These days are really intense in experiencing, feeling and tasting priorities, needs and actions. As the news and regulations become more and more dense, I noticed how I try to make references, to quote what I have already experienced in order to classify the situation.
The Chernobyl reactor catastrophe of 26 April 1986 is the very first to be present. I will not forget that date. I was 23 at that time and lived in a community. When we heard about it days later, we made emergency plans, bought food in stock because we expected our food to be poisoned soon. We watched the radioactive cloud’s path, studied the rainfall patterns. It was a spring as beautiful as this. I probably want to calm down today, tell myself that even after this catastrophe, the world continues to turn. If I am honest, it was the same for me, but certainly not for the people of Ukraine. Chernobyl was perhaps the most obvious first impact in my life. It was followed by countless others, each of which took our breath away if we were open enough to be touched. In my very personal enumeration, these are the war in Yugoslavia, 9/11, the tsunami in the Indian Ocean at Christmas 2004, refugees from wars and climate catastrophes, the attack in Paris on 13 November 2015, and certainly not least the new racists in Germany. These events shape and at best activate them. They change the appreciation of what we consider normal. They teach how to deal with fear and grief.
I believe we all want to be able to classify this pandemic. Perhaps even into this list of poignant, painful moments that (hopefully) will pass. But it cannot be categorized – at least not at this moment. It is referenceless and demands trust in not knowing, in an open situation, in friendliness and warmth, in good contact with others, with oneself, with illness. This loss of solid ground underfoot sometimes produces the countermovement to want to take a stand-point. To relax into a development, we have (perhaps) not yet learned. Not knowing today what we will think tomorrow, not practiced. It requires the precision of clever minds and alert citizens, journalists and politicians, so that from this bundle of actions, which are necessary now, a just, social system can grow.
Yesterday, a friend said she had the impression that this open space is pregnant with possibilities, new thoughts, networks and unexpected helpfulness. “In times of need, people bring out the best and the worst,” writes Giovanni de Lorenzo. The most important question is always, what can I myself contribute so that the situation is well designed?
It is crystal clear that for the moment we cannot even think about travelling, meeting each other, experiencing together the joy of a group. But we can encourage each other, be joyful, contact and learn together. We will reschedule the Miksang workshops when groups are allowed and travel is possible and hopefully we have found back to a stable everyday life.
I find this interview with David Kessler worth reading. And there the circle closes. David Kessler always recommends to return to the present. Photography can be your personal tool to do just that.
Find here a constantly updated list of suggestions and feel free to write me your comments.
Finally I would like to quote Greta Thunberg: “Let’s keep our numbers low and our spirits high.
More unsorted thoughts
– I am deeply grateful for a value-oriented and crisis-experienced Chancellor and see how privileged a healthcare system in Germany is.
– In the queue for the Picasso exhibition, people certainly got infected in the same way as in other crowds. Do not use Corona to serve racist or discriminatory clichés.
– I have a new newspaper subscription. Already after the political upheavals of the very rights in Erfurt a few weeks ago I thought: journalism must be financed!