On Covid time, In Quarantine

I woke up this morning with this thought; One foot in the past and one foot in the future. What does this mean? It was a very strange thought to wake up to. Did I have a dream? If so, I don’t remember anything about the dream except for this phrase. One foot in the past and one foot in the future. What about the present? Have I neglected to live fully in the immediate reality?

Being in Quarantine over the Christmas Holiday is particularly strange. No children, or grandchildren opening presents. No large gatherings at all. No Christmas dinners. Who will eat all these cookies? Very strange indeed in the Martin household, where lively gatherings are commonplace. Instead of a bustling, frenetic, Christmas morning, I am calmly sipping tea and scrolling my e-mails. Not much to read until I came across a lovely article by Maria Popova. Somehow I managed to get on her subscriber list. Not sure how that happened. I think a fellow artist sent me one of her articles? I must have subscribed. I guess the title of her newsletter/blog Brain Pickings intrigued me. Ironically, the very title that intrigued me has been changed. The new title the Marginalian. It is a word that is hard to say and also spell. I liked Brain Pickings but that is no matter. If you would like to have interesting stimulating ideas introduced, you may subscribe to this very thoughtful newsletter https://www.themarginalian.org/?s=time

“The antidote to the time-anxiety that savages our lives; the neuroscience of how the body moves the mind and how our feelings shape our consciousness”.

This was the title of the current post on the Marginalian. Sounds heady but how apropo to my current state of mind. Living in the present seems to be a goal that many of us have a hard time doing especially now. We are always hurrying, always planning, always wondering what tommorrow or next week or next month will bring. Sometimes the planning can be paralyzing and prevents any action taking place. Now all choices have been suppressed by a deadly virus. We are no longer in complete control. Of course, we never were in control, but to have restrictions on travel and social interactions for fear of spreading a deadly illness, makes us feel even more out of control. It flaunts that fact in our faces and it isn’t pretty. It is stressful to say the least. After two years of worry, the constraints start to take a toll.

As a painter our job is to slow down in front of the canvas. To observe, reflect, respond and act. The action is a combination of our head, heart and mind. It is necessary to “quarantine” from the world during this process and not anything unusual. So, this aspect of “separation” did not bother me in the least. I even welcome the uninterrupted quiet time. What I do not enjoy is the “unknowing”. How much longer will this last? Will we ever be normal again? What does our future hold? It is hard not to wonder about the future and to long for the past.

I do not know much about the Hindu religion. I found this little snippet on a Hindu website written by Jayaram V about living in the present. I liked the ideas very much. “True living is living in the present.

“However, if you can manage to focus on living, on your actions and on your perceptions, feelings and emotions through mindful and insightful observation, you can resolve this problem to a great extent. If you succeed in this effort, then even if your mind is drawn to the past or to future, you become a mindful observer of that in your present moment, rather than becoming involved with the movements of your minds and lost in them.”

The idea of “mindfulness” is also something we hear alot about these days. Stay in the present moment. Slow down, smell the daises. We have heard it before but I think the message is clear that we all tend to move through our lives hurriedly for many reasons. Partly because of the lifestyle we are part of. Modernity affects our actions and thoughts. We all want quick information and instant everything but at the same time yearn for a nostalgic quieter existence. Not sure if you can have both. This computer enables me to access thoughts, ideas and images at an incredible speed and sometimes it is dizzying. I love being able to reach out into the world with the stroke of a key but I am coming to the realization of how much time is really wasted in too much information and trivia. Is my time better spent somewhere else? Questions we should all ask ourselves.

Another phrase that I liked very much in this article was: “Living is always a present moment activity. If you want to make the most out of your living, stay in the present to the extent possible and enjoy life as it happens. We are like the walking pens on the canvass of infinity in which we unite the past with the future through the present moment. ” WALKING PENS ON THE CANVASS OF INFINITY….. I wish I had said that.

The author refers to people as “time travellers” Going back in forth through our memories and feelings and emotions. What we know is an accumulation of our past memories and perceptions.

This reminds me of Proust' novel "Remembrance  of Things Past".  The affection and kiss of his mother, the famous madeleine.  We all have memories from our childhood that are conjured up like magic by visions, sights and smells of home, of family, of our past.  

“No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me.” Marcel Proust

“And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in some material object (in the sensation that material object will give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on chance whether we come upon it or not before ourselves must die”. Marcel Proust

Memories of the past. Hopes for the future and a solid foot in the immediate NOW. That is what I hope to be able to blend just like I blend my paints to create something new.

Take care everyone and let’s hope for a brighter New Year 2022 and an end to these covid days.

Image from Importantish blog: https://wubr2000.wordpress.com/2011/03/05/marcel%E2%80%99s-madeleine-excerpts-from-how-marcel-proust-can-change-your-life/

2 comments

  1. Delighted to know of your fondness to Proustian remembrances. Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu was my special class I took during my undergrad majoring in French

    Thanks for your email Happy New Year–Shonali

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Yes, I enjoy his long rambling sentences and neurotic personality. I hope you are well. Life is still a challenge for me and I am hoping for a better New Year for all of us. take care

    Like

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