Our days have become marked by extreme events. The weekend of excessive panic-buying at the supermarkets. The suddenly barren streets. The deserted Causeway. Time has changed. My office hours have changed repeatedly, once shrinking twice overnight. There is word that we’ll be taking shifts soon. The shape of weeks and months have changed. Dates on the calendar give way to daily statistics of new infections.
Writing stops. Of course writing stops. For me, it isn’t so much anxiety as the constant disruptions to the experience of time. It becomes difficult to put meaning together without stable time.
In the gravity of greater developments, of heroic narratives, of now insuperable distance, of unprecedented alarm, it becomes impossible to protect the smaller, more fragile things—communities, small businesses, birthdays, laughter, words. In moments of catastrophe, we must not forget to attend to the smallest things. I don’t know how to covey to my friends that we must also work to safeguard the mundane.
Tomorrow, we’ll find a way to have that birthday celebration safely, distanced yet together. Tomorrow, I’ll text my friends abroad, distant yet far from apart. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll write, maybe I’ll find the words to protect the small things.
Daryl Li is a writer and editor based in Singapore. He can be found at his website (http://daryl.li) or Twitter (@nonstickpanda).