By Stella Joseph-Jarecki (Enquiries: stellamusicwriter.wordpress.com)
I never want to forget this pandemic. I’m sure no one will be able to erase the event from their memory, but humans can adjust to almost anything. I suspect that after a few weeks of returning to Stage 3 restrictions, many of us will forget how we felt during Stage 4 (and so on…)
Of course, I am all for jumping headfirst into the happier future. We are going to be giddy, excited, experiencing an emotional equivalent of three Christmases at once, when bars and venues can start welcoming patrons again. And it will be fantastic.
I am planning on being among the first audiences to return to live gigs. Through my work behind the scenes at a music venue, I’ve seen the incredible thought and care that is being put into making these events as safe as possible. I also understand that some people will desperately want to be there in the flesh but won’t feel comfortable taking that risk initially. That is why I am determined to do my bit during those first cautious months.
Like everybody else, I want to turn a new page and fling the remainder of 2020 into a bottomless abyss.
But I don’t want to forget all the angst, restlessness and loneliness I’ve felt over the last five months. I don’t ever want to forget that six or seven weeks into working from home, I was absolutely hating the claustrophobia and lack of social interaction. I couldn’t even picture myself making it to the 1st July (my workplace’s tentative date for select staff to return to the office) without murdering someone. It’s currently the 31st of August, so somehow I managed this and then some.
Whenever I am having a bad day in the distant lockdown-free future, I want to be able to remind myself that I found my feet in a brand new job while limited to the medium of video calls and emails. It was far from ideal, but I did it.
When I look back on this time, I don’t want to forget the friends who made the effort to pick up the phone. Over the past five months, video calls and Zoom catch-ups have been more than just a fun distraction. They have been a mental and spiritual lifeline. I laugh more during my weekly choir catchup than in the previous six days combined.
I don’t want to forget the hundreds of hours of solo lockdown walks I went on (and will continue to go on), purely to keep my brain from collapsing in on itself.
I don’t want to forget the grey feeling of every day being a Monday, and every Monday stretching out forever.
I don’t want to forget needing an entire Saturday of sitting around not answering my emails to recover from the exhaustion of… sitting around answering my emails. (Mental exhaustion, all right?!)
I don’t want to forget the things I’ve learnt about the importance of balance. As illustrated by my previous point, mental fatigue occurs independently of physical fatigue. So while I’ve conceivably had all the time in the world to attend webinars, up-skill myself, watch documentaries, learn a language, teach myself to become a yoga instructor, I’ve chosen not to.
Through my 9-5 job, I’ve been getting snippets of insight into what disaster-recovery looks like for the arts industry in Australia. So the last thing I want to do after I clock off is attend a lecture on the fate of audiences in Australia post-lockdown. As a young writer and singer I already want to take a long walk off a short pier. Too much content turns my brain to mush and my mood to crap.
So yeah, I don’t want to forget COVID-19. I don’t want to forget how I’ve struggled, because that would mean forgetting how I’ve persevered.
Hang in there, everyone. In a few months, this will all feel like a distant nightmare.