It is still a very clear memory even after 18 years. It was my last day of holiday with my parents. We were on our way back home after an enjoyable day sightseeing, and our last stop was Boca do Inferno (Hell’s Mouth) in Cascais, near Lisbon. The radio was on and kept us company while the sun was still very warm in September. The following day I was to fly back to London and start my Masters. All in all, a new chapter and I was keen to start. The music stopped and an urgent, but unsure, voice announced horrors were taking place in New York. The three of us looked to other each, dumbfounded. Before the rise of smartphones and easy access to news, we had to wait until reaching home and switch on the TV. The shaky images that came out of it still freeze me to the spot nearly two decades on. I wasn’t there but we all felt it. Events that followed 9/11 meant significant changes to how we travel and created further political divisions between the West and the Middle East. A second Gulf war later (and several other conflicts), the waters are still very troubled…
With all that is going on right now, a cosmic shift is needed. A new crisis is upon us and will undoubtedly change the way we live (again). Following the news, social media, witnessing and experiencing others and our own realities, we are being encouraged to look after each other, even strangers. We are being reminded we are all part of a wider community. Just like the intricate and beautiful engineering of a spider web, any disturbance felt in a remote part of it, is felt everywhere. With increased sensitivity, spiders stand to attention, analyse the source of vibration and only then decide to act or not. Whatever community you are part of, you are feeling it too (and deciding to act on it).
It comes as great comfort to me that people are connecting more despite the recommended “social distancing” and “self-isolation”. For instance, crowdsourcing to keep the London tango community going by ensuring the organisers, who take much pains to develop and nurture the scene, do not suffer financial hardship in these uncertain times.
But there are more community driven actions being set up in the wider world! Online classes, virtual milongas, long-distance musical ensembles…More and more is being created to keep spirits up, keep people moving and remain connected despite isolation. Everybody is doing what they can, all for the good of keeping things together, keeping the music going, keeping the memories of warm embraces alive. In this communal sense, here’s my little contribution to the tango community out there not dancing, unembraced for now.
My hope is that at the end of this, we will be kinder to each other because we have all gone through the same experience. We will be healing together, back into the safety of an embrace. Until then, keep safe, be creative – cook, read, write, sketch, paint, sing, take photos – breathe slower, appreciate the beauty of small things and most importantly of all, learn to reconnect with ourselves and others.
Be ready to resurface to a new normal: nature is healing without human interference, we may have gained a new skill and a deeper understanding about ourselves. Be ready to step outside and notice how the world is rapidly adapting but be sure it’s a change for good. We all have a starring part in it and it’s on our (very clean) hands to do so.