The pandemic has warped and layered time like an earthquake disrupting rock formations developed over millions of years. It has played around with time and with distance in ways that we only partially grasp, or are conscious of, while busily distracting ourselves with our technology.
“Is that a donkey?”, Fi asked on Instagram, when I posted a photo of JNH sitting reading in a rocking chair, next to a wooden piece of furniture M and D had given me way back for a birthday – a magazine and small-book holder made from plywood – yes a Donkey it’s called. The rocking chair in the photo was the one from an Astoria thrift store that I’d got when I had the idea, when pregnant, that a rocking chair was a good thing to have for feeding a baby and rocking them to sleep. I happened to be sitting in that chair breastfeeding JNH at 3ish one morning when I heard the news on the radio that Osama Bin Laden had been killed.
The book that JNH (now 10) was reading in the photo was called “Continental Drift”, following the movement of tectonic plates through geological epochs. When I sit on the rocking chair – rare moments at weekends – I rest that big Continental Drift book over the top of the Donkey to turn it into a table for a drink and bowl of salt and vinegar crisps. These are just some rather specific moments that are mind-blowingly tiny compared to the epochs in the book.
I have moments of feeling I should be firing on all cylinders like I ended up doing last year yet finding, in 2021, it much harder to do so. Moments of saying for heavens sake now of all times is a time to go slower, to reflect, when possible, and precisely not to fire on all cylinders. And moments when I just let both those opposing thoughts cancel each other out, and respect the arbitrariness of time. We can bounce fast along the surface of it, we can pause and dive deep into it, maybe we can sometimes stop it entirely.