Take away the future and it’s hard to stay ‘present’.
We’ve been in lockdown for a few weeks now. I understand the necessity. It’s not as long as Sydney or as many times as Melbourne but what most of the country, nay world, has realised by now is that any lockdown is lockdown enough.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the idea of presence and my attempt to stop mentally scrolling backwards and forwards in time. Now I realise that to do that you need the neat bookending of both a past and future.
But time has slipped from its moorings. Lockdown, the eternal waiting room, has scrambled our sense of the future and, as I’m now realising, it’s hard to be in the present without a future.
Waiting isn’t uncommon territory for a writer. We’re well aware of how uncomfortable it is to wait on submissions, feedback and querying. Waiting is its own kind of agony. It’s a protracted presence but one that isn’t really fixed on the moment. It has its sight set on some point in the future, when things will change or you’ll finally have your answer. With lockdown though, that future is on hold.
It feels like I’m caught in a Beckett loop except it isn’t Godot I’m waiting for. My eternal waiting is for the host to let me into the meeting, for the vaccine supply to arrive, for the daily reveal of dire digits in the press conference or for my daughter to actually start writing a sentence using her spelling words.
Some people are writing away and having a mini-renaissance with time and perspective. I’m frozen. Everything has come to a confused halt as I continue to wait.
My lockdown is stagnant in many ways but not still. Alas, not for me the baking of sourdough or learning of a new language. Between home-schooling, work and domestics, I don’t have much left in the tank, time or energy wise. I’m not reading much. I’m writing even less and I’m always at my worst when that happens.
Two characters in a Tom Stoppard play discuss the future. One says, ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ The other replies, ‘Tomorrow, in my experience is usually the same day’ and I’d have to agree.
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