Where are you? I am literally on a tropical island locked down quite severely. I am old and getting older by the day. Being locked down has made me feel as if I’m in a timeless prison, I can’t go forward and I can’t go back. My brain wakes slowly from a miserable deformed sort of rest. Not really a rest at all, just an excuse to close my eyes and pass the hours, day or night doesn’t matter much.
I look out over palm trees to a rolling Caribbean sea, its lovely. Unfailingly beautiful, never quite the same, the clouds scud heavily by, the rain pours in buckets. The sun beats down through a target clear sky. It changes non-stop. Sometimes wearing and beating me down with a solid banging of furnace hot strikes, sometimes breathing the most wonderful caress of the freshest air. Can I imagine the fumes, overcrowding, homelessness and poverty of Lagos and Cairo, of Calcutta and Mumbai, of New York and Los Angeles?
How lucky am I? No question. I read more than I’ve ever read before, books that have entranced and bored me in equal measure. In all those words, slavishly squeezed from imaginations sometimes fantastic, sometimes small. The sea still rolls in, the palm trees still sway.
Enter the television, the zoom and the computer, news, news and more news. All about the disease and the spread of a virus that could kills us all. After a while, we’ve heard enough, this country, that country, he’s dead, she’s dead. I’ve become unsensitised to thousands and thousands of deaths. It has all become a dreadful bore. Just as I have become unsensitised to the homeless near my UK home.
Hang on a minute, what if I die? What if my son/daughter dies? Then the whole thing gets personal.
Until then, there’s nothing but boredom unless of course you’re a ‘front line worker’ involved, fighting, risking, giving, and dying even. We clap and cheer and I think envy those who are involved. In a curious way this pandemic is creating heroes and villains. The villains confined in lockdowns twiddling their thumbs and waiting for it all to be over.
At least most of the villains are passive sitting it out, just quietly complaining about the heroes’ odd failing. Some villains are definitely worse than others, taking risks, shouting absurd conspiracy theories, promising the impossible, flouting their government’s directives, and endangering other people known and unknown.
When it will all be over, what then? I hope that many of the villains will step up, wake up, work and help each other, for surely things will never be the same. Let us hope that there will be new heroes, who will knock our heads together and remind us how precious our habitat is.
There is and always will be, room for heroes. Perhaps one day it may be me, or maybe you.