In the four years I've lived here in Spain I have barely written. It wasn't until COVI9-19 appeared on the global scene and we entered lockdown this past March that I began to do so again. Initially, it seemed odd to me that this would be when I felt inspired to start using my voice - or even feel I had my words again - but I slowly came to realise why: it was the first time in four years that the world around me was quiet enough for me to hear myself think.It is only when we silence the blaring sounds of our daily existence that we can finally hear the whispers of truth that life reveals to us, as it stands knocking on the doorsteps of our hearts. K.T. Jong
For the past two months, life as we know it has stopped. On March 12, the metal doors on the village shops rolled down and remain locked. The streets, once filled with friends meeting for a beer or coffee, or strolling the local shops, emptied out and for the next 50 days I wouldn't even hear the voice of a child. We were only allowed out for essential errands (a trip to the grocer, pharmacy or doctor) and my brief journeys out to walk the dog or shop were met with masked silence. The air hung heavy with a sense of the unknown and, as our lockdown kept getting extended a stillness so heavy it was palpable.
I think, years from now, when I look back on this time it is the absolute quiet of those first seven weeks of lockdown that I will remember most. Before the children were allowed out again. When almost no cars passed on the highway and the train only saluted us a few times a day with its whistle. Spain is not a quiet place, but those days were thick with silence and it blanketed me.
Sometimes it felt suffocating.
Sometimes it made me feel safe.
Now, I see this silence as a gift. Now I understand that as the outside world went quiet, the world within me was able to awaken again. There were no external obligations - nowhere I had to be. I had to teach my online classes, feed myself and take care of my pets. Life was distilled to the essentials. There was time to think. There was time to just be.
What we have gone through on a global scale the past few months is undoubtedly an experience we will never forget. And, as we begin to reopen and cautiously tread out into these phases of our "new normal" the world is beginning to make noise again. As I type this I can hear children playing out on the beach. The church bells strike every 15 minutes once again. The sound of the waves hitting the shore is interrupted by that of cars passing by.
Life is returning, albeit in a different way.
I embrace this return. I feel blessed to have passed through this time with my health, the health of my family and friends and work in front of me. But, I also hope to carry the self I reconnected with during those soundless days and nights into the future. Perhaps we cursed what was happening and even felt afraid at times, but that stillness was a gift. A chance to disconnect from the endless looping of our days and realign our priorities. For me, a time to find my voice again.
For that, I am eternally grateful.