The Plague-Ground – One to Think. One to Blink.

Two weeks ago, I was searching for toney ways to keep us entertained at night.

Enough of Tiger King! Bring on King Lear!

Today, I’m drowning in culture. Especially the kind where I have to concentrate for longer than a minute, like The Ring CycleThe Messiah and Swan Lake, and of course anything by Shakespeare. (Did I tell you it’s his 456th birthday tomorrow? Right, I did.)

Because while I often plead guilty to having the attention span of a gnat, I now have the focus of a nano-gnat. The torrent of online content has swept away any ability to discriminate between an Amber Alert and a day-long Zoom meeting.

So it was that last night two links arrived in my inbox with urgings from their senders to “See this now!”

I’m now five weeks into getting these kinds of e-mails, so I usually just wait a couple of hours, then Reply with “Amazing!! Thanks for sending!!!” No need to actually open the links.

But I must have been distracted from my distraction because I clicked on both of them, and now I’d like you to do the same.

The first epitomizes how you should convey hard facts and big changes in a time of crisis.  I clicked on expecting to hear Jacinda Ardern or Queen Elizabeth. But it wasn’t a speech. It’s a gauzy video where never is heard one single word. Even more shocking, it’s from an airline based in Dubai, Emirates Air. In one brief minute, it says “Here’s what we’re doing for you now” and “Here’s what air travel will look like everywhere.” So please, take that minute now and see how COVID-19 could reshape air travel even more than 9/11 did.

The second link is worlds away from the cool professionalism of the Emiratis. It’s not about facts, but feelings. Great weeping gobs of them. But this video is different from all those others we’ve been told to “See now!” Because it’s music and poetry and moving pictures whose very ordinariness catches us off guard. It asks a question most of us keep buried far down: “Do you think when this will all end, will we love more?” Here it is now.

Best of all, despite their wildly different everythings, both of these videos give us hope we’ll reach the same safe place together.

“And damn, we’ll feel good again….”

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23 thoughts on “The Plague-Ground – One to Think. One to Blink.”

  1. Linda Granfield

    (sniff, sniff…) Thanks, Bob.
    Not surprised to see and hear such poignancy from the land of Yeats and my forefathers. And Saoirse Ronan can read the proverbial telephone book and I’ll listen.
    BTW–I’ll add to your links received–National Theatre (NT at Home)–last day (today) to watch their ‘Treasure Island’ production on YouTube. Best moving set I’ve ever seen. And clever casting of Jim. Every Thursday at 2 pm a new production.
    “Amazing!! Thanks for sending!!!” (wink)

  2. Upbeat. Optimistic as promised. A beautiful sunny day in Toronto. Nice and quiet. No traffic. What more could one ask for!

  3. Jennifer Wardrop

    Two very distinctive pieces, capturing the reality of a future , post – pandemic world, and the heart of humanity. The earth is healing… predictions of a 6% reduction in emissions this year means we have something to celebrate on Earth Day.
    Whether we will Love more, or even recall the intensity of our current feelings of hope, fear, and boredom , is to be determined.
    Is this period too brief to make an impact?
    Thank-you, Bob- for the insightful and introspective Plague Ground!

  4. Laird Saunderson

    Have you seen the touching ad on TV ..with lovely images ..and shockingly at the end, the ad says thank you for NOT taking Uber!

  5. I strongly believe that this unique period – where we’ve all had to collectively hit the giant Pause button in the sky – will absolutely yield a kinder, more compassionate world. Bob – your second video captures this in clear, undeniable terms. Thank you for curating and bringing this more light. We simply cannot go back to not caring about one another at previous, small-minded, self-interested levels. COVID-19 and it’s impacts are unprecedented, and we’re being deprived of our most basic and urgent ingredients to cope – being able to touch and comfort one another physically, being able to see each other smile fully (with masks obscuring even our most casual contacts), and being able to assure each other things will be ok. When this ends, we WILL love more, we will notice more, we will appreciate more… in spite of our most selfish urgings. We’ve already been re-wired.

  6. Madeline Thompson

    Oh, this is exquisite and beautiful Bob, as are the videos, and as are you for
    sending this. I’m sending it on and on. Yes, we must never let this happen
    again. Whoof, this is tough! To beat it all, Thailand has banned all alcohol for
    a second time, giving us no time to stock up. No red wine to get me through!
    Red wine is good for you, doctors say so. So very many Thai people hurting
    so badly here – cannot earn a living at all. Line ups for free food, those with
    something giving what they can. The country has not been hit badly
    and where I am, Chiang Mai in the north, hardly any cases at all, one fatality.
    My heart goes out to them…. soon it will open up again and much hope they
    can recover. Many strangenesses everywhere (I know that is not a real word).

    1. MAdeline — Here’s to red wine. wherever and whenever it’s on offer!
      Sounds grim without it.
      Cheers. Bob

    2. I agree with you, Kirsten. We ARE already being re-wired…let’s see the result in a couple of months.
      Thanks for checking in. Bob

    3. Jennifer — Oh, I think we WILL love more, if only because this period won’t be as brief as we hope.
      Stay well down there!

    4. And talk about lightning fast service at Toronto Western this morning! As Jean says, they need the billings!

    5. Linda — Thanks for the National Theatre tip. I will watch for sure…and yes, Saoirse Ronan could read a parking ticket and I’d weep!

  7. Marlee A Novak

    Dearest Bob,
    During this time, so very many emails and jokes are being sent and recieved, this piece is well worth seeing and sharing. Very meaningful and emotional.
    Thank you.

  8. Bob, I cried my eyes out at the Tenth Man video, beautiful, thanks for sharing, and I have shared yet again! Terry

    1. Thanks, Marlee. We are up north and are settling in to stay there for a couple of months more. I assume you and yours are high and dry?

  9. Thanks Bob.
    Humans are especially good at being resilient and creative during and after catastrophic events.
    One example is Michelangelo, 1475 – 1564 who created amazing works over a period of very dark times.
    Later this year Emirates Air can fly us to Italy to view endless evidence of his work.
    Thank goodness that as a global community we are now conscious of this capability.

    1. Alan — Thanks for writing. I too will be hoping to go to Italy next year, and I hope we can see Michelangelo’s spirit in action.
      I see from Instagram that you are high and dry, which means safe and sound. Good ! Cheers. Bob

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