The Corona Diary – hopefully a short term photographic project
Denmark is on a coronavirus lockdown. And so are large parts of the rest of the world. All public schools, universities and kindergartens are closed. All non critical public sector employees are sent home. All restaurants, bars, pubs, hairdressers, dentists and so on are closed. Gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
Photographically I keep on doing what I always do. I photograph the normal everyday. Now in the shadows of a pandemic effecting almost everyone everywhere in the world. I call this the Corona Diary for obvious reasons. And I really hope it’s gonna be a very short diary. Also for obvious reasons.
This is a bad dream coming true. My girls are concerned, I believe everyone is, but I assure them we will be okay. And I’m convinced we will be. I think of the ones I love and realize there are many. And I feel lucky and privileged. And I miss them all very much right now.
We need to stay calm and take care of each other. Be responsible, don’t panic, we’re not alone, we’re together. Separately.
And I’m trying to stay sane. Quite a challenge in these crazy times. Also trying to stay far away from the news and the social media, the f…… social media, but with very little success. FOMO.
Listening to music and trying to read a lot. I usually do. Unfortunately I lost my backpack containing my Murakami book (I absolutely loved that book) together with my wallet, house keys, car keys, and other items, on a night out going rouge ending with me getting woken up by a guard at the railway station in bright daylight the next day.
That was during pre lockdown times. Now I struggle with psychosomatic covid-19 symptoms while watching the parliament speed passing new legislation undermining our constitution. No worries, it’s only temporary they ensure us. Can’t believe how fast and easy that went off almost without any, or at least very few, critical journalists questioning it.
Watching the borders being closed and guarded by military personnel. Though the health authorities claim this has nothing to do with virus fighting or containing. And WHO likewise who furthermore claim the whole lockdown tactic is all wrong.
Mentally and practically preparing for entering even higher restriction levels. National emergency. Curfew. Quarantine. Either being paranoid or strikingly clear thinking. I prefer calling it realistic pessimistic, as someone very special to me wisely said.
My thoughts are with everyone I know, everyone I love, everyone in the same situation. And everyone who lost the fight against the virus and the ones they left back.
And my thoughts are with those who’s living with circumstances like these, and far worse, as their normal every day. Poverty, war, climate crisis. It’s quite a shock being a part of the most fortunate and privileged population in the world realizing we’re not invulnerable.
What this will do to us in the aftermath I cannot predict. I hope it’ll do something good. Though I have my doubts.
Still keeping sane. Most of the time. Sort of. This new reality indeed can be a challenge for many reasons both every day practically and very much mentally also. But together and separate we’ll be ok. Focusing on the good moments. It’s spring, it’s getting warmer, the sun is shining. We are privileged, we have plenty of food, a roof over our heads, we’re healthy, we’re doing great. And dreaming of great times in great company.
The youngest one is going back to school. I cannot say I’m thrilled. I’m the opposite. In the middle of a pandemic that probably hasn’t peaked yet, the government reopens kindergartens and the schools for the youngest half of the children. Why? They call it a slowly reopening of our society.
But at the same time the rest of the country is under continued lockdown for at least a month more and all major assemblies are banned until, and including, August, which means all events and summer festivals are canceled. Small businesses like hairdressers are closed to prevent the spread of the disease. But kindergartens reopens despite the risk of spreading the disease.
All logics tells me the risk of spreading the Coronavirus is profoundly higher in a kindergarten. Of course I’m no virus expert though. But my journalistic skepticism makes me wonder. Is this done to get the smallest children out of our homes, so the parents can work from home far more efficiently and thus avoiding small scale civil wars within the respective families?
Doing your full time job from home while at the same time acting as a substitute teacher for your children indeed is a potential conflict escalating situation. Or is this done to initiate a herd immunity procedure? Or is the whole pandemic crisis situation really on its retreat? I do not know. I just wonder.
Singing and dancing
Don’t know what the normal everyday is anymore. There’s the old normal everyday and the normal Coronavirus everyday. But what then after Corona? Is there an after? Will it be like the old one? I really do not hope so.
During this strange period, a break from the busy and stressful everyday hamster wheel, a timeout, a limbo in time, I’ve been contemplating. On myself. On my life. On our lives. On life. I consider this a gift. Or rather a wake up call.
I ask myself; what is important? And what is not? There are things, activities, that usually occupy a lot of my time, that I used to consider as essential parts of who I am, that I do not miss at all. That I in fact feel relieved not to deal with. Quite an eye opener. I haven’t felt this calm, unstressed, satisfied and present for years. My treacherous mind tells me I need these activities because they define who I am. My body says otherwise.
I’m gonna listen to my body for once. And I’m gonna listen to Alan Watts who said: “You were supposed to sing or to dance while the music was being played.” I repeat this to myself everyday. In the new normal everyday. And here, I’m gonna sing and dance. Everyday
You know that feeling? When you walk down the street and you spot a woman further down walking towards you and you realize she’s beautiful and then you realize she’s not only beautiful but the most kind and caring and beautiful of them all and she comes closer and your heart’s beating faster and then she smiles at you and look straight into your eyes and your soul and see it all and your heart almost stops beating and now she’s close, close enough to touch and then she kiss and hug you and you kiss and hug her and you tell her you love her and she answer she loves you back and time stands still and the world stops spinning around and together you dive into eternity? I know that feeling.
What is the purpose? I’m not sure what it is. Or if there is any. Is it okay to do nothing? I actually practice it a lot. It’s not easy at all I can assure you. It’s actually something I struggle with. But I’ve practiced and I’m getting rather good at it. And most important, it’s really nice. It makes me feel good, relaxed, not stressed – in balance.
Some days I spent doing as little as I can get away with. Like today. I’ve been hanging out in my couch this evening listening to music. John Mayer spinning on the turntable. Earlier today I enjoyed a quiet moment reading poetry in my little garden house. Charles Bukowski. He was both a great poet and a man living a tough life. And then I spent a couple of hours in the sun drinking coffee trying not to think of anything. Which I find quite hard, well, impossible actually.
At lunch I met the woman that I love, it was her lunch break from work, and we enjoyed lunch together outside in the sun. She enjoyed lunch, to be more precise. I just enjoyed watching her and listening to her voice. I’ve done some other stuff today also but I believe you get it.
This was a day where I didn’t have to do anything but what I wanted to. Those days don’t hang on the trees. And they don’t come easy. I’ve been working hard for many years to find a way, a balance, so that I have enough space for plenty of days like this one. Because after days like today I feel something I believe could be happiness. Close to it at least.
Maybe that’s the purpose? To be happy. Something I’ve figured out is, that doing nothing really is doing a whole lot. And I’m gonna do a whole lot of nothing like today a lot more.
The moment when the sun comes out and warm up your body and your soul. The moment when playing makes you laugh all the way from deep within yourself. The moment when there’s no plans to follow and no other places to be but being in the moment. The moment when time stops and you have no idea what time it is and you don’t care. The slow moment when it’s quiet and you say nothing to each other which is saying it all. The moment when you just know. The moments. They’re everywhere. And they’re worth everything.
For how long will it be Corona Diary?
For how long will it be Corona Diary and not just Diary or Visual Diary? I really don’t know. Before Corona the diary on my website was Imagining Life. Maybe it should now be Imagining Corona Life? Well, I don’t think so… But here in Denmark the everyday has almost returned to its normal before Corona condition. For better or for worse.
For months, the news has more or less solely circled around a single topic. The pandemic. And I just realized how much I did not miss the news about all the populists, liars, crooks and criminals running the world. I almost forgot everything about them. Which was really nice. But now I’m once again reminded of them constantly. Which sucks.
I’m aware I can’t just close my eyes and pretend they’re not there. But I’m gonna do it anyway. Just a little bit sometimes. I’m gonna spend the days together with the ones I love doing the things that I love. From the inside of my happy place I’m gonna pretend everything’s all right. At least for a little while. And I’ll work hard on expanding my happy place. On creating a better everyday. Doing less overall. But doing more that matters.
The Corona break from the old normal everyday was a nice and much needed break. The break that is, not the disease and all the suffering it has caused. It made me (and many others) think of our lives. On how we live. And, most important, how we don’t live.
The everyday hamster wheel once again is spinning out of control. I expected that. Money runs the world. So, we have to work, so that we can consume and then work some more and consume some more, so that someone can get even richer while others get even poorer.
I refuse getting back onboard that hamster wheel train running wild. I really do hope others feel the same. I don’t want to be rich. I want to be happy. And live in freedom and in peace. I imagine every human being on the planet basically feels the same way. It gives me hope. Is there anyone out there feeling the same way as I am?
Living with it
Right there, with feet buried in the ground falling apart and a deep blackness underneath, he made a decision. He decided to let go. To stop resisting. He decided to go with the flow.
There’s something on the other side, hiding in the dark, that he yet doesn’t know and can’t see. That he can’t even imagine.
Life tells him there’s something waiting there. And it might even be good. Just might. This is just one of life’s many unpredictable events. A bump on the road. Unpleasant yes, disturbing even, not to mention shocking.
But time will heal it and stash it inside him alongside all the other events from the past making him who he is. For better or for worse. And he basically appreciates who he is. Or at least he has accepted it.
The pain he feels right now will eventually feel less painful. He’ll learn to live with it. Maybe, someday, he’ll forget about it. Like he’d done before. In general life is awesome, he tells himself, yet sometimes it sucks and hurts unbearable. It’s an unavoidable part of it and you just have to live with it.
So, that’s exactly what he’s doing right now. Living with it. While drinking a lot of rum.
So tired. Exhausted actually. Physically. Or mentally. Can’t really tell. Can’t really tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Can’t figure out what to believe in and the opposite. We’re currently reclosening the world around us. Well, to put it right – it’s being reclosed. It’s the great lockdown part II.
There was an open window this summer, and through that window we could smell the fresh air. The air of openness. Of freedom. Of a pandemic long gone. Maybe it was just a bad dream even? But it was not. It’s here right now. Again. Still. Officially called The Second Wave. It was even predicted. Almost like it was planned.
Or maybe it’s the current season. Autumn. During the recent years I’ve noticed something you could call a seasonal depression. Which, I guess, simply means that summer’s over and it sucks. I’m not nearly done with it. The warmness and the sunlight. I need lots more D vitamins.
And I need more time outside in the garden, around a bonfire, in the tent, in the kayak, in a light, warm and cozy summer night with the woman that I love in one hand and a glass of wine in the other and nothing else to do and nowhere else to be than exactly that and there.
It’s probably a combination of this and other stuff. The tiredness. Life’s a rollercoaster. To use a worn-out cliché. Uphill and downhill. By the way; which of the two is the positive? Or negative?
Or to use poetry: “Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so. After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns, we ourselves flash and yearn.” – John Berryman, Dream Song 14.
I’m considering either buying a light therapy lamp or a good, dark therapy single malt. Clearly leaning towards the latter of course. The days wither and disappear almost without being noticed. What’s happening to them? Tomorrow is tomorrow and withing a blink of an eye tomorrow was yesterday and is gone.
Often, I can’t even remember yesterday. Often, I can’t distinguish the past days from each other. Often, I cannot even remember with whom I’ve talked about what with. It’s all a blur.
I find this a time of change. A temporary period of time. With restrictions on our freedom. With face masks. With the fear of contagious strangers passing by. With the fear of all this not being temporary.
Fortunately, I hope. Just hope. Without it, there’s nothing left. I do still believe, there’s plenty left. And in the meantime, in the limbo of change, I’ll surround myself with music and poetry and literature and visual beauty and the ones that I love. Which actually is a pleasant and permanent condition.
Mutants and presidents
The world is crazy. It has always been, I recon. Right now, though, I find it extraordinary crazy. COVID-19, the US election, the terror in Europe. And many other dramatic events forgotten in the shadows.
The COVID-19 situation here in Denmark is on the other end with the government claiming the mutated virus will potentially make Denmark the virus epicenter, a new Wuhan. The northern regions of our country are strictly locked down. I guess we’re just waiting for the rest of the country to follow.
And the US presidential election. A circus. A drama. A horror show. I found the coming presidents’ words from last night kind of comforting. He’s realistic. He’s calm. His rhetoric was clear, embracing, humble.
He clearly knows it’s gonna be a tough, maybe even impossible, job to fix a broken country. But “we have to try,” as he said. Apparently, he represents the exact opposite of what we’ve seen from over there the previous four years. And that itself is a relief.
We’re all alike. No matter where we’re from. Weather we’re voting right or left, the middle, or not voting at all. Weather we believe in someone or something or nothing or no one or only ourselves. No matter what we look like or what language we speek. We have the same basic needs and dreams. We want to be healthy. We want to live in peace. We want to be with the ones we love.
I find that reassuring. I also find it highly disturbing. Why, then, is it so hard to treat each other right?
I do not have the answer.
Twisting and Turning and Jumping
Many years ago I got separated from my body. It happened suddenly and unexpected. I never did that before. I didn’t know what it was. I then floated free through the air. Gained some altitude until I reached the sealing. Which wasn’t much altitude after all.
And then I looked down. And I was horrified. I was out with some friends. We were on a nightclub. We were on the dancefloor dancing. Me with some girl but I cannot remember who. Everyone was fairly intoxicated.
And now I was stuck up there under the ceiling looking down. There were no sound. The silence was thick, and I felt like screaming. But I couldn’t. I too was silent.
The bodies down there on the dancefloor kept moving. Twisting and turning and jumping in an ear wrecking total silence. And I watched them all. I watched my own body twisting and turning and jumping. It was like some bizarre nightmare.
The twisting and turning and jumping bodies were strange creatures from a world beyond anything I’d ever seen or had ever known of. A non-human world. I felt a devastating separation and distance from everything I’d ever known.
I felt so alone. I had no idea of what was going on down there. I couldn’t understand what they were doing. I was in shock.
And as suddenly and unexpected as I’d left my body, I returned to it. The sound was back on. I was dizzy. I just stood there in the crowd. I turned around without a word and walked home.
But I’ve never completely landed. The feeling of distance and loneliness still visits regularly. And I still have a hard time understanding what is going on down there on earth.
Also check out the visual diary ‘Imagining Life’ here!
NOTES on the photography in this project: most images are shot with the Fujifilm cameras X-H1 & X-E3. The images are made in camera with Fujifilms filmsimulation Acros R. All images comes straight from the camera in JPG. No crop, no Photoshop. The flashes used are V350 & V860 from Godox.
Wanna know more? Join me on my Photographic Masterclass – here, we explore ourselves and our personal photography during the autumn of 2020. Read more here.