Patience. When you see everyone is suddenly on edge, especially in this sullen time of COVID-19, the sense of foreboding seems thick enough to cut with a knife, and hints like a whisper in your ears, that something (with excuses to Ray Bradbury) wicked this way comes. For the panicky others, it might as well be screaming in their ears then ricocheting inside their heads.
I remember one time in Camiguin island. We had just arrived via a small passenger ship and were preparing to disembark. As usual, most of the passengers were in a rush to get off (I don’t know why). Because of this, someone at port side fell overboard. All at once, the people on the opposite side instinctively rushed to see. I recalled shouting “curiosity killed the cat” to friends because the sudden weight shift had suddenly caused the boat to tilt so dangerously that I could have easily jumped from the railings down to the pier with no problem at all.
Funny (and also scary) as it was at that time, the incident had become one life lesson that I would never forget: that at any given opportune moment, there will always be that one thing that will unite us all and cause us to behave like… cattle.
Now now, however sad or pathetic that may have sounded, it is an objective truth, and perhaps because of that, it is indeed, funny. Who knows, that must have also been one of the basis behind the saying “No man is an island?”
In a more positive way, in as much as I prefer alone time with my thoughts than being in a crowd, the idea of the latter, in the midst of what seems like a mindless herd, is likewise appealing. With that said however, I am not about to jump ship anytime.
And then, this imposed isolation comes along. Our social distancing strategy against the spread of this virus is actually like forced meditation in a way, but with the koan compounded by close proximity to some people, they be family, the crying kid next door, or the taho vendor screaming at the gate. In this time of COVID-19 however, it has become a case of having patience, or else, get out and consequently die.
Flashback to the year 1992. Eight of us were attending a lecture on what to expect in our Europe performance tour, with emphasis on how to survive riding in a van with each other for weeks on end. The image of clawing at each other had come to mind then and we had all laughed about it. A much-larger theater Manila-based group had likewise warned us about the said probability. Later during the trip, with fatigue and pressure as added factors, there had indeed been some moments when it had almost come to that. The same applies now.
This time, lock three writers in one house, give them deadlines, add obnoxious neighbors, the incessant bawling of a spoiled five-year-old, and regular peddlers at the gate, and what have you got? In this time of COVID-19, it might as well be patient, or die.
So, aside from the preparations for the long haul of food, water and medicines, these may all come second only to good old patience, the most important thing to store plenty of during this Tarantino quarantine moments.
Luckily, it is not available in groceries, so that the threat of panic-buying is eliminated. However, one needs to cultivate that seed inside your head at the soonest time possible, if one were to continue enjoying our stay in the islands that corona has made us build.
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