Or maybe something else.
In the absence of capitalistic compulsions, time feels different. It’s not really about the being home everyday – I imagine many of our daily rhythms are probably the same. This place to that, with each space having specific functions and specific smaller constellation of people. Our lives are so shaped by the same machinations that most of what we do are probably so uniformly mundane that #foodporn became a thing. Probably also why it’s so easy to track people’s movements using mobile phones – security risks being mainly, our own habits.
And something about the way that our mind maps space. “The world in a grain of sand,” as Blake observed. How we are able to look deep, or look broad, when we are given the stretchy, languid ease of time freed from the small, regular tick tock of capitalism.
I remember a conversation with J, in one of our usual late night mamak teh tarik kopek dunia sessions, talking about how the word we used to tell time shifted from “jam” to “pukul.” How the word “pukul” evoked not only the sound of one metal hitting another – which brought us into a rabbit hole conjecturing of colonialism and their technologies of time – but also the damned regularity of it. The need to cut up time into comparable units because what we do, the space we occupy, the labour we engage in, the small surface of things we touch, is part of a larger clockwork. And maybe for awhile, we imagined this clockwork to be a linear, albeit complicated everyday poetics in the form of a Rube Goldberg machine. But that there’s this chief designer, the factory foreman, the dude who knows where and how each piece should go.
And now we are suddenly freed from the usual cues that measures the productive life. And new cues and new norms are being hectically constructed, making digital productivity tech developers and market ululators wide-eyed in excitement, envy and anxiety. Do we zoom, jitsi or have a houseparty? Each space for different things. Each inhabitants for different tribes. And how wonderful that digital security and surveillance is getting some mainstream airtime because really, digital platforms have become the space for all of our convening and doing. Emerging solid from the background like an slightly disheveled ghost, caught unprepared for the sudden arrival of so many slightly panicked pairs of eyes.
But we humans are stubbornly animal. Surviving through habits in our thinking and being, even as we are adept in pivoting and adapting. We layer what we know on what we don’t. This is probably how we have become in this small sliver of time, the most damaging species on this planet’s history. And we are quickly realising that no matter how much we try to hack our homes into our work spaces, our bodies of habit are in resistance.
A break in train of thought. The sky has shifted from bright white to a dark yellow grey. It’s been sitting lower and lower since the Asar call to prayer at 4ish. The lone frog hiding somewhere in the garden croaked the coming of the storm when the thunder rolled slowly above like a giant lesung batu in the sky. I wonder if the two baby doves are still in the frangipani tree. They were remarkably steady in the afternoon storms of the past two days, swaying with the branches as the tree danced wildly in the wind and the perpendicular rain.
Someone who grew up in the northern hemisphere asked me if I ever get bored with this seemingly consistent, unchanging weather. Never seeing how the world can change from pastel spring to bright summer to reddish autumn and monochromatic winter. And I am not sure how to explain the speed in which the world shifted in hue, volume and density with a tropical rainstorm. And if this tempo and rhythm can be felt by someone who has experienced a longer and more gentler unfolding of time with the changes in season.
And yes, a season is not a daily weather. And even as I am trying to make a comparison in my mind, I’m realising the death of my metaphor recalling how a day can shift in any space in the world.
So maybe this is just about me, sitting in my patio, looking at the shifting skies and the shivering trees, thinking about time and how willing we have become to open ourselves up to observing small things, like two baby doves in a tree and the time it takes for a storm to break. The size of raindrops from nailheads to mushrooms. The ecstatic cawing of birds in heralding the storm to the single tweets trailing from tree to tree, checking in. And how suddenly, it’s okay to be in the world we live in, and be alive with it. Fully.
Covid19 Lockdown Diary