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We are living in “unprecedented” times.

I nominate the word “unprecedented” as word of the year for 2020. I don’t think I have heard a word mentioned more in the span of two weeks by friends, family, and everyone who is reporting or being reported on. “Synergy” would probably be a close second back in 2010.

I have been reflecting a lot lately about what this means for the world we knew only a few short weeks ago and what the world we will emerge into will look like after this is all over. It feels a bit like purgatory in some respects. Everything is on hold. I feel like the world is holding its breath, waiting to see what will happen next.

This is where the concept of imagining, the anchor in our organizations name, really comes into play. I know that we will survive this as a human species. I hope that when we come out the other end of this, we are able to reflect on where we were when we went into isolation and make changes, however subtle they are, to the way we all live our lives. It could be as simple as never taking a sunny day for granted as you walk through a park full of people, or hugging a loved one just a second longer because you can, or maybe it’s on a larger scale by making policy changes that shift and change the way we operate within our society.

We, as an organization, decided that this was a good opportunity to provide a space (digital as it may be) for the collective us (that’s you, and you and all of you over there) to be able to reflect on your own experience as you find your way through this messy, unpredictable, and yes, unprecedented time. This space encourages you to tell your story about this moment for your future self. What do you hope you today will remember and want you tomorrow to not forget? These letters are part of our ‘time capsule’ and become an artefact that we can all share, read, and reflect upon. They are the stories that others can relate to and share in the experience.

Through all this heavy news, there are stories of communities coming together that bring a smile to my face; watching a video of a local opera singer on her balcony singing to whomever could hear her, the clapping on balconies for our healthcare workers as a simple thanks for all they’re doing; the acts of selflessness I’ve read about from people who can and want to help those who aren’t able to.

I personally am trying to use this time to reach out to friends and family I may not always be in touch with as much I’d like. I enjoy the moments of laughter that break the monotony. When my family tried to have a ‘family night’ using video chat, I felt almost like everything was normal as we all tried to make the technology work and got flustered and frustrated and laughed at how ridiculous it was that we couldn’t get the video chat to work (we eventually did). I remain optimistic and am taking each day as it comes. It’s the best way I can handle the world that seems to be changing at warp speed. I don’t know where we are going to end up when this is all over. Life will be different, that is for sure. My hope is that we remember that we really are all in this together, all the time.

Checklist of things to do in a pandemic:

  1. Reach out to friends for an online video chat that you may not have seen in a while
  2. Give yourself something of a routine to follow, as best you can
  3. Read one of those books on your shelf or borrow one electronically from your library
  4. Catch up on all those shows you’ve been meaning to watch and check out some that you may not usually consider (there’s a lot of great Canadian work out there to be seen!). And remember, it takes a lot of time, effort, and talent by a lot of artists on and off the camera to bring those shows to your screen (same goes for music, theatre, art … basically anything cultural)!
  5. Go for a walk (while keeping your distance from others) to get a breath of fresh air
  6. Bake everything in your favourite cookbook
  7. Leave little notes for your neighbours of encouragement and community
  8. Buy gift cards online (if you can) for your favourite local stores
  9. Sew together some face masks for our healthcare workers who need it
  10. Breathe.

Blair is a trained playwright, designer by trade, and traveler for life. He is the Executive Director of the DIA and loves all kinds of food.

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