The 'C' Word
Updated: May 7, 2020
I write to make sense of the world, but it's hard to make sense of anything at the moment and focus is elusive. I read a Facebook post where even Neil Gaiman said he was struggling to get anything worthwhile down. He used the word ‘discombobulated’ and it’s exactly the right word for these times. We’re all bobbing around in a sea of disbelief at how fast life, as we knew it, has changed. There is suddenly so much uncertainty in every aspect of our lives.
I’ve been writing a COVID-19 Diary and there’s more than enough to muse about each day as things continue to evolve, minute by minute, as we all try to adjust to living in an unprecedented state of lockdown, cut off from our usual daily activities, from seeing loved ones, from most of what structured our world pre-COVID-19.
Last year, I was in Amsterdam and visited the Anne Frank Museum. Like millions of other people, I’d read her diary, at about the same age as Anne was when she was incarcerated in those tiny rooms above her father’s business premises. Anyone visiting the Museum could not be moved by seeing that space. Anne's words echoed as we moved silently through the building, as we tried to put ourselves in her shoes, imagine what it would have been like for her, hiding in the Secret Annex for more than two long years.
What struck me, even when I first read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’, was how amazingly resilient human beings can be, how people can adapt to even the most impossible situations and find a way to live. As COVID-19 wrecks havoc around the world, the situation has been compared to war and while there’s no doubt this virus is deadly, it's challenging us in different ways.
Books and stories are always important, but now more than ever they can offer solace and comfort. Many people before us have suffered in unspeakable ways and have found some way to keep going. Books remind us that we will too.