Month: April 2020

There Is No Time For Despair

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. This is how civilizations heal. I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge – even wisdom. Like art. – Toni Morrison

As always, books are comforting. Both to write and to read. To give away, to loan, or to borrow. To read aloud or listen to. A shelter from the madness outside. Consolation. Oh, the “sweet serenity of books” as Longfellow puts it. 

I write a bit, I delete a bit more, I pause, I stare through the window at the rough sea and the white clouds of surf. A blackbird jumps back and forth on the grass, looking for worms. The cat suns herself, lazily licking her paw. I write away the virus, the anxiety, the madding crowd.


The Rising Moon

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

Since my house burned down

I now have a better view

of the rising moon

Mizuta Masahide (1657–1723) 

Amid the alarming corona reports, fake news and yes, fear and anxiety, Masahide reminds us that beauty can be found everywhere, even in challenging times. We only need to pay attention.

So, take a break from your busyness, look around and see the world as it were new.


Our Uncertain Future, Temporarily Arrested

Photo © Mihaela Limberea

As for whether this is the last time we will hear a new Bob Dylan song. I certainly hope not. But perhaps there is some wisdom in treating all songs, or for that matter, all experiences, with a certain care and reverence, as if encountering these things for the last time. I say this not just in the light of the novel coronavirus, rather that it is an eloquent way to lead one’s life and to appreciate the here and now, by savouring it as if it were for the last time. To have a drink with a friend as if it were the last time, to eat with your family as it were the last time, to read to your child as if it were the last time, or indeed, to sit in the kitchen listening to a new Bob Dylan song as if it were the last time. It permeates all that we do with greater meaning, placing us within the present, our uncertain future, temporarily arrested.

Nick Cave, the Australian singer, songwriter and front figure of the rock band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, on a question about Bob Dylan’s latest song in his Red Hand Files (where he answers questions from fans).


Endurance Is a Marathon of Hope

I don’t really know when or how it happened, but my safety cocoon has now been activated. Right now, I don’t want to see more news, more corona statistics, or more quarantine advice. No new exciting films or this cool series on Netflix: corona has added enough excitement in my life. 

What I do want is a remote control to turn off the world for a while. Or at least pause it. That’s what corona has done with our old world, put it on pause. Or shut it down completely? The future will show which. I wonder how this period will be called in the history books. We have the Great Depression. Maybe the Big Pause? The time when everything stopped all over the world, more or less.

What is clear already, I think, is that this is a marathon. We’re in for the long haul. It’ll take us some time to get through the unknown and the scary, and one of the most important things is mental health. It’s no secret that isolation and worry eventually will take its toll on the healthiest person. So, we have to find a way to get us through this long trial … should we call it the great unknown maybe? 

“All human wisdom is summed up in two words: wait and hope.”
– Alexandre Dumas. Photo © Mihaela Limberea

People hoard food and toilet paper (toilet paper? TOILET PAPER? really?), but what will carry us safely to the other side is not full pantries, but hope and courage, confidence and perseverance, optimism and tenacity. And a lot of patience. We simply need mental fitness

Today’s challenges are borne by hope. We must believe that there will be a life after corona, a good life, although it may look different than today. The most loving gift you can give your loved ones is hope, the best medicine in corona times – until a vaccine is available. 

As Alexandre Dumas said: All human wisdom is summed up in two words; wait and hope. 

Endurance is a marathon of hope.

So, stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh. 


Writing Lately

Taking my own advice, I continue writing, despite alarmist media reports, gradual movement restriction in Sweden and my own distraction. Creativity is hard work at any time, not only during a pandemic. So, I sit down every morning, turn on my computer and start typing. 

I’m writing a short story at the moment. I was working on a novel but decided to pause it for a while. With a story, I can (hopefully) be done quickly and that would give me a feeling of accomplishment. It’s also good fun writing it, and fun is a good thing these days. 

The funny thing (see what I did here?) is that I had completely forgotten about it. I had a few loose ideas, but I was working on a different thing at the time, so I just wrote them down and saved them in a “Writing Ideas” folder for later, and then promptly forgot about it. 

A few days ago, two years later, I was looking for something else and came across this file titled “The Author”. I had absolutely no idea what it was. I opened it, read the couple of pages it consisted of and, not to sound my own trumpet, but they were good! With a few funny twists thrown in for good measure. So, I grabbed the file, got to work and ended up in that creative bubble where everything seems far away, even the coronavirus, and the world is warm, and nice, and fuzzy.

The learnings?

Koala by Mihaela Limberea www.limberea.com
A cute koala for your enjoyment. View on Black Photo © Mihaela Limberea

1) Always carry paper and pen with you and jot down any idea that you get. You will not remember it later. I’ve placed small blocks of paper and pens strategically everywhere in the house, and in my pocket when I’m out. You could argue, of course, that you can use your smartphone, but I favor paper and pen. I just enjoy leafing through the pages, slowly, back and forth, for the incommensurable joy of the unexpected connections that sometimes may jump at you from the pages.

2) Use a folder to organize these loose thoughts so you can easily find them later. Whether the folder is digital, or analog doesn’t really matter, it only needs to suit your organizational system. You do have one I trust? 

Then let them marinate for a while, while you can carry on with your ongoing projects. You can come back any time to look for some ideas when you’re stuck or ready to kick off a new project.

Chance, or fate, or just the butterfly effect may sometimes lead you to the end of the rainbow too. All you have to do is trust your creative genie.

Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay calm and soldier on. And don’t forget to laugh.