The global COVID-19 pandemic has heightened our awareness that time is subjective. Does it feel like 2020 went on forever? Did lockdown drag, and can you even remember how you spent your time when you weren’t living under COVID-19 restrictions? You are not alone. For many, 2020 has been the year in which the constancy of time was lost to the upheaval of coronavirus.
Clocks were invented to help us track the passage of time - and yet in some moments when staring at a clock, we are made aware of just how long a second can feel. For some people who enjoy working from home, the days have whizzed by. For others desperate to travel, time has slowed to a crawl.
And just like that, it’s almost 2021. The start of not only a new year but the beginning of a new decade. I guess many people, like myself, are glad to put 2020 behind us and move forward with a fresh start. It was an incredibly difficult year filled with new changes and uncertainty. I have been looking forward to a new beginning for some time now. We are humans, and we require some semblance of hope to keep us pushing forward. Rather than focus on the negative, I thought it would be fun to do something uplifting as I set a course for a new decade. Many including myself have taken this time off as an opportunity to do something they may not have thought to do: take up a new hobby.
I'll try to practice a small amount of gratitude as 2020 comes to a close.
Thank you painting. I couldn't have distracted myself for this long without you. As some of you are already aware, I have been learning to paint some years back but I paint more actively in April 2020 onwards. I couldn’t believe how the time flew by. For those who are not aware, you may view my artworks @jenniferteopaints in IG.
I painted the above picture in my new art journal book which I myself find it inspiring. When I see birds passing through an ocean, I cannot help but imagine all the places they had been and all the things they had seen. Their epic journeys also highlight a broader point: Flying across the world with nothing but a pair of wings has to be the ultimate in freedom.
To me, getting trained in the technique of brush strokes and more importantly the eye for careful observation is a window to connect with nature. Getting truly acquainted with scenes through close observation of the light and dark, the colours, shape and the emotions and memories of the subject is an exercise in appreciating the wonders of the living world. Just like travel photojournalism, this pursuit will always be a work in progress. The power of art is the notion that good art transcends the scene to the abstract and beyond. It resonates with hope or despair depending on the viewer's state of mind.
Below is another journal page that I just completed today, portraying a lady with hat (a canvas art series which I'm currently working on) with an accompanying word "eunoia". "eunoia" comes from a Greek word, meaning "well mind" or "beautiful thinking." It is also a rarely used medical term referring to a state of normal mental health. In rhetoric, eunoia is the goodwill a speaker cultivates between himself and his audience, a condition of receptivity.
With less than a day left until the new year, let's acknowledge our resilience (through this little painting) that helped us all make it through 2020.
So what of 2021? Will time regain its regular rhythm? It is difficult to say. With the first vaccines currently being deployed, we maybe more hopeful than ever that normality is just around the corner. The reality may be that normality is many months away.
Regardless, while we can’t change the actual time it takes for the vaccination programme to be completed, there are some things which we can do to speed up the wait. By keeping our minds positive, minimising stress, engaging in meaningful work or leisure as much as we can, we can help the journey back to normality pass more quickly than normal. To that end, I hope that we can all play an active role in squeezing or stretching our sense time stays with us, long after the pandemic ends.
I think that probably for me, what this has brought home to us, and what I hope it's brought home to other people is we can potentially live our lives in different ways, and we can try from this period to utilize the things that make our lives better for us. What I will continue to do, is try and lengthen the time I have enjoying things, and shorten the time that I don't enjoy things.
Here's a simple translation for you: seize the day, whatever your version of "day" has become.
And if that strikes you as tough, well — you still have lots of time to think it over in the days (weeks? months?) ahead in 2021.