Siege Diaries 6/21/2020

Toronto Music Garden, 1 year ago today

Here we are, on the doorstep of the hundredth day.   We look up and around, at how little and how much has transpired in those short and endless days.  How little we knew then of what stretched ahead of us, what profound changes would be wrought, but yet what truths would be established as foundational.

Perhaps I knew, then, glibly citing the Siege of Leningrad, what might lay ahead, in tragedy, in length of days, if not in its concentration.  The performance I was to hear just days after the siege began is long forgotten now, a thing once scheduled but not to be.  I have marvelled to hear part of it performed virtually, a thing never contemplated before.

This is a siege of the mind, of a body strangely suddenly disconnected with the world surrounding.  Somewhere out there, there is a city I once traveled to by train twice or thrice weekly.  Rays and sharks swim in waters I once visited.  An arena once resounded with games on ice or court, or the sounds of thousands united by song.  Auditoriums lay in wait for notes suspended in air.  There are buildings, empty and full.  Out in the far beyond, there is a country I once called home.  The elementary school I attended is being torn down.  A friend places flowers on my mother’s grave.   The country I once loved is being subsumed by darkness, and yet, the beauty still persists, beckons, holding out against all hope.

I have learned to cherish the emergence of spring into summer, the wildflowers in the woods, the voices and songs shared from homes in the midst of the ongoing siege.  I have learned to make peace with the time lost and gained, the gifts received and unclaimed, the life paused and yet continuing.  I see communities bending towards each other and strained to the breaking point, both augmented, as if focused through a lens.

Have I changed?  Or have I always been thus, but not paused to ponder?  Or do I just understand now what can–and cannot–be taken away from me?