The other day, I was wondering what good we had gained by the Corona pandemic. Seriously. Because I keep thinking that, no matter what we experience, there is something to learn from it. And before you think that I will belittle the results of the pandemic, I should hope you will know me better by now.
First of all, I know quite a few people who have lost parents or other loved ones; in my extended family, we also lost somebody. Also, friends of mine have had to give up their businesses, one of them in the market for 28 years; a year of construction, then a year of the pandemic broke their back – and they were amazingly creative entrepreneurs. I realize that people have lost their homes, their jobs, their self-confidence, their patience, their health, some even their manners.
Of course, I didn’t go un-hit either. Everybody in the art and entertainment business had to deal with losing their immediate audience suddenly. Those among them hit worst were certainly all those who rely on a stage presence and are otherwise not seen or booked at all. A German friend of mine, opera and concert singer Stefanie Kunschke, came up with so-called window concerts. Every Sunday, during the first lock-down months, she sang from her roof window in the city of Monchengladbach – for free. Over time, she received requests, which culminated in bookings to sing from other people’s balconies or windows once the lockdown was slightly lifted. But it shows how resourceful one has to be – she had to be seen in order to be heard. And as she sang arias and lieder on request, too, she became one of those highlights people were looking forward to during the direst times in 2020, including myself. Even the radio station Gladbach.live featured here (and below).
I know of artists who had to forego gallery nights, actors and ballet dancers who created art in whatever room they could found, just in front of a camera. The movie business is hurt as an institution – no more kissing and hugging, but social distancing all the way.
I guess, we authors have been hit, but we still were kind of lucky. We were still able to get our books seen. Even if we only used the media we had used before, we could be read – articles in newspapers, on websites, announcements in newsletters, or on message boards. Still, we too, missed out on our immediate communication – no book signings, no readings, no fairs, no launches. It hurts when you are publishing a new “baby” that gets seen by only few people and bought by even fewer. And I heard from a whole lot of authors that the pandemic made them struggle to come up with new, positive work at all. Some might have reverberations like writer’s block for a while. Depressions are for real.
How did I manage to keep them at bay so far? Meaning, yes, I have had some days I felt low, but never really depressed. Well, I discovered technology for myself. As I am quite a fossil, it’s easy enough to “discover” it, of course. I still do without a smartphone because it keeps me focused on what I deem the real life. But I have used Facebook live and read to the camera – some poor ersatz for a reading to a live audience, but still something more than just being holed up in my writing nook. And I have had Skype and Zoom meetings with friends, even a Zoom reading to a German club in San José, California.
In this context, I can only highly recommend the Zoom meetings Dorothy Wilhelm keeps offering each and every other Monday at 9 a.m. They are not just educating but highly entertaining; and one meets the most amazing people not just from Washington State but from different corners of the world. They make you think, experience new things, gain new friends. There! And if meeting new friends, gaining new knowledge, and starting off the week on a happy note is not a gain, I wouldn’t know what is. I keep thinking of the times when the Plague struck, and people were isolated without all these media. And here we are, seeing and being seen!
Social media have gotten a bad reputation off late for all the hate speech, fake news, and hindrance of transparency they support. But they can also support the direct opposite – human relationship, the spreading of good vibes, the creation of bonds, and joint ventures. If it hadn’t been for this pandemic, I might have stayed stuck in my writing nook, never breaking out of the box. It may sound strange but I think I’ll miss the Zoom meetings I have started enjoying this much with so many strangers who have become friends. With the pandemic disappeared one day, I hope that some of the good stuff simply keeps.
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.