This is not about how to use time in a pandemic. Like most people, I’m vassilating between functioning and faffing at the moment. It’s hard to focus when you are suspended in a state of grief. Not that anyone close to me has died, it’s more that life as we knew it has ended and we are in the liminal space, between what was, and what will be. It takes emotional energy to deal with fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of getting sick, fear of losing someone, fear in general. Not watching the news too often helps, but even keeping your head in the sand is exhausting.
Routine helps. I get up early, during the week, to journal. Three pages of hand written ‘stream of consciousness’ writing, prescribed by Julia Cameron in ‘The Artists Way.’ Then I work on editing or writing, occasionally drawing. I am trying to get outside my comfort zone by learning new things. I don’t draw, so it’s a new area. I thought re-learning crochet is like a new thing. I have made headway with a blanket. Cue the ‘Dory’ theme music, just keep swimming, just keep swimming…
With the ‘learning something new’ in mind, I am editing a memoir (of sorts) I wrote a couple of years ago. I plan to turn it into an ebook for my family in the UK to read. This means learning how to create an ebook, how to format, publish etc. Then I plan to learn how to build a website, but one thing at a time. Ok two, maybe three. It’s hard to focus at the moment isn’t it?
The following is a story from the memoir. I wasn’t going to share the poem that I included, but I changed my mind. Who knows you might enjoy it.
‘When I was in grade five, in 1965, our teacher asked us to imagine what the world would look like in the year 2000. The space race between Russia and America filled our screens each night. TV was only ten years old and in some ways we already felt like we were living in the space age. The idea of putting a man on the moon was stretching our imagination. Could it ever happen?
Our favourite TV shows were the Flintsones, which made us feel very modern, and the Jetsons, which reminded us we still had a long way to go. I also loved ‘My Favourite Martian,’ which had everyone thinking about life on other planets, hence the space race. The show was not the reason, it was just a reflection of popular thought and the way the media of the day wanted us to think. (Spot the skeptic)
Another cartoon we loved was Dick Tracy. He wore a watch that worked like a two way radio, wow! Maxwell Smart had a shoe phone, and all kinds of crazy gadgets. They were laughable and way out for people who watched crackly old black and white TV in awe and wonder.
Colour came to television in 1967, in Australia anyway, just in time for the moon landing in 1969. Not a lot of colour on the moon and they wore white suits, but the flag was colourful. Dad bought the first colour TV in our street, it was a huge event in our household.
I remember seeing early computers, at Monash University, where my dad was a lecturer. (I can hear my mother in my head saying, ‘He wasn’t just a lecturer, he was a Reader in Chemistry!’) The computer took up an entire floor of the building. There were whirring tapes and flashing lights and people in white coats with clip boards scribbling down important things. It was very exciting, but also completely beyond my comprehension. People said one day every home would have one. They might as well have said everyone would have their own personal rocket and fly to the moon.
Now, I have a mobile phone that is more sophisticated than the first rocket that landed on the moon, and a real Dick Tracy watch. I had coffee recently with my brother, David, and my sister, Shân. My mobile phone rang and my watch chimed in as well. They looked at each other and Shân said, “Is that a Dick Tracey watch?”
It is hard to believe we are alive in this era. It’s also hard to remember life before the internet, but it wasn’t that long ago. Technology has divided Baby Boomers into two camps, the tech savvy and everyone else. I can’t do maths to save my life but I get technology for some reason. Being born the other side of this era probably saved me from being even more of a freak at school!
I am thankful for flushing toilets and not having to boil washing in a tub or using a mangle like my mother before me. How did people find time? How did our mother cook all those pastries, biscuits and cakes, look after four children, get the washing done and have the dinner ready on time? How was she not stressed out of her mind? Somehow there was enough time and our mother took it all in her stride.
Letters took a week to get to our family in Britain and a week to return. Imagine waiting two or three weeks between emails. Technology has made our lives physically easier, and all our gadgets and machinery are supposed to save time. No more hand beating cream or stirring cakes with a wooden spoon, which we did in school— yet, we are more time poor than any previous generation. Now with all our systems to save time, it’s as though time itself has slipped away and abandoned us.
Time slips like sand
Time advances steadily
into the future