As the summer is coming to a close, I find myself in a strange state of mind. The weather is noticeably cooler and the streets are busier, but there’s this sense that things are about to be so much more different than they were a short six months ago. It was March then, the start of spring. A time when the world should be coming out of hibernation and opening itself up to new possibilities. Instead, it shut in on itself. It got cold outside and people went indoors.
There we stayed.
The time between March and September feels like a void. It’s too late for the flowers to bloom. The leaves on the trees have already thought about when to fall. The sun, too, is retracting from the hopeful gaze we are setting upon it. Soon, we’ll be planting bulbs and wearing sweaters. We’ll be picking up where we left off when the last winter was ending.
The world went on as if our lives weren’t changing with it.
What the world did was give us something we didn’t know we needed: time. A vacation is always nice, it’s an opportunity to get away for a bit and stop checking email without guilt. The world gave us more time than this. It gave us enough time to become bored. We, as a society, faced a boredom we’d never known before.
We are so accustomed to occupying our time with activities to keep ourselves busy. We feel guilty for sleeping in or letting the trash can fill up. We snack while watching TV so as to ensure that all of our face and our hands, too, have something to do. Even our feet find themselves wrestling with the ends of a blanket while we invest our attention in the fate of a character contrived in the mind of someone who had the time and energy to create him/her.
Eventually, we all reach a Rubicon of boredom. Eventually, nothing on Netflix will seem interesting, and we’ll exclaim that, “There’s nothing to watch.” Even still, we’ll continue to scroll through the menus until we tease at an RSI. We fight hard to keep ourselves entertained. We want the world to entertain us.
If, in the last six months, you have done nothing for yourself, nothing to entertain yourself, you have missed the point of this time. It needn’t have been much, maybe just reading a book that you wanted to or spending time learning how to make bread. It doesn’t need to have been something extraordinary like finishing your memoir or analysing the influence of ants on the aeration of soil during a drought. It simply needs to have been something for yourself. It could have been thinking seriously about the people you love most or trying to understand how sleeping in impacts your ability to take out the trash in a timely manner.
Whatever it was, or continues to be, it has to be something that you created. It has to be something that has never before existed in the world. It has to be something that you can lay claim to.
The act of creation is important because it is within your control. From raising a child or applying henna, the creative process is unique to you alone. When the world gave us time, it gave us the space to create.
It’s troubling to hear talk of returning to the world we used to know. For what? What was so wonderful about what the world was like before that it has to be replicated? We already know what it was like, so why aren’t we trying to improve upon it? Why aren’t we aiming to create something we never had before? Why aren’t we disrupting our notions of what is acceptable and finding ourselves pleasantly blanketed by discomfort?
That is what creation is, isn’t it? The disruption of what exists. It’s volcanic in nature.
It’s difficult to properly acknowledge the amount of lose that we have faced in the last half-year. According to reliable accounts, nearly one million people have lost their lives to a virus that was identified less than a year ago. One hundred years ago, the world saw the same thing happen, after the devastation of the First World War. Soon after that, the Great Depression followed. Then, the Second World War happened. Today, we face a different trial: economies are being bolstered by government deficits, we are in the midst of a mass extinction, and anti-Black racism is ever-present in our lives.
As a species, we are fighting for our survival. Our survival has a cost. Earth is paying that price. So, if you’ve done nothing with the time that you were afforded in the last six months, it’s time to start something new. It’s time to leave your impression on the world and on future generations. The journal that you have been keeping is more than enough. Whatever it is, make sure that the world is bettered by you. Loss should never be suffered in vain.