They say patience is a virtue and it might be one of the most important ones we got to practice in 2020.
Dinah Washington sings "what a difference a day makes", yet during the pandemic some days and some weeks feel nothing different from each other. They are glued together by the shortness of winter days and unfathomable numbers of new cases. Our homes transformed into offices, recording studios, dance floors, movie theatres and restaurants. We are waiting. Waiting for things to get better, to "come back to normal", for life to restart. And there are days when it feels that we reached the limit of our patience reserves.
Walking through the empty streets of the city I was feeling like Will Smith (minus the dog) in "I am Legend". Wondering if there's anyone who doesn't feel a tiny bit lonely during Christmas. I'm not talking about pandemic Christmas, in general, holiday season with all of its expectations to make life look like a postcard. Perfectly decorated tree, perfectly packed presents and all smiles no drama.
Christmas in my family are always messy: broken-dishes-burned-pies kind of messy. Someone is always late, drunk or in the mood to discuss politics. But it's fine, because life looks perfect only in instagram pictures. The rest of the time it's just messy.
Pandemic pressed pause on parts of my life that seemed unchangeable. Dancing, traveling and community suddenly had to be reimagined online. As I didn't want to just wait for things to come back (no patience for that), I had to reimagine myself. Find what parts of life and work I always wanted to explore. That road took me to journalism and some inspiring organisations. I stopped asking "but who am I" and took as many projects as I could. But this is not a story of how we should try to be our best productive selves during quarantine. It's alright if we're just waiting and surviving. And if you're able to do that in a more patient way, I'm jealous.
Recently I did an interview with an asylum seeker, waiting for his refugee status. If you know anything about this process, the key word here is waiting. Depending on a country, the process can take from 6 months to several years. During that time you can't do much as most of the time it's not possible to legally work or study. You just have to wait.
"Patience is really important. You can't rush things. Be patient, follow the rules and the help will come. Things will happen," the interviewee said in the end of our conversation. And while he said that as a message to other refugees and asylum seekers, to me it felt as accurate as possible.
I don't know how to practice patience. Saying "be patient" is similar to "just relax", it almost evokes an opposite effect, doesn't it? But I do know that even when it feels that life has paused, it actually never does. And you know what, if you're young(ish), this is probably the time that will be remembered as your "good old days", even if doesn't feel like it some (most?) days.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” /F. Kafka/
(Patiently) waiting for the life to come back, we should remember that life happens even when we're waiting. It happens in the gaps and pauses, in silences and breaks. While we're waiting in the line or for the end of the pandemic. In Zoom calls and Netflix watch parties. It happens here and now. Whether you're waiting or not, it happens every single second of every single day.