It is clear the period we are currently experiencing is one of the most terrible our society has ever known. Anxiety has become something we live with every day. And, every day, heroes in white coats battle to save lives. But, as with all dark times, this one has its share of wonderful things, moments of grace and hope. While this enforced quarantine separates us physically from our loved ones, it does not distance us from them – on the contrary, it strengthens the bonds between us. Contacting our nearest and dearest, but also those we don’t always find time to call, competing to come up with the most ingenious – albeit virtual – ways of sharing time; this has also become part of our daily lives. And so, to our delight, we have discovered ‘Digital Drinking’ – or Skypero – amongst friends via WhatsApp, Facetime and Skype among others. And God knows it’s good to meet up again, even like this. We are already looking forward to really seeing each other again in happier times to come.
Yes, life goes on, despite everything, and there is one movement that has really warmed me: in the midst of this enforced distancing, we are rediscovering the joys of cooking and a glass of good wine. Lunches and dinners as a family have (re)become the most important moments of the day. At last we are making time to be sociable, to relax together while we push the reality of what is going on around us to the back of our minds. And we are rediscovering that wine is something to be shared and a marvellous accompaniment to a meal. During such a difficult period, will wine once again become essential to our culture? Had we forgotten about it as we vulgarly passed it off as just an alcohol like any other? I feel like everything has been turned upside down in a matter of days and, for some, the simple fact of reading that wine contains elements likely to battle viruses such as the Coronavirus restores it to the centre of our cultural universe. Wine does not cure epidemics, of course. But in numerous countries around the world wine is part of the cultural heritage. It needs to be preserved and safeguarded. It’s a shame we have to go through all this for wine to resume the place it always held in our culture. The same applies to cooking; I get the impression that people are also rediscovering the joys of preparing food. We are rediscovering pleasures we had perhaps forgotten, either because we didn’t have the time, or because we thought we needed to move on and forget the habits of our elders. Lastly, we are rediscovering slow time: the time to take time and to get back to what really matters, to the simple things that are the essence of life.
Yes, thanks to this Coronavirus we are becoming reconciled with slow time, with the immediacy of daily life and social networks. Stretching out the hours to infinity. Thinking about this “soon” or that “later”. Having free time. Allowing ourselves to be lazy, to dream. Thinking about the future. Taking all the time we want. This is breathing space for some, even though we are not totally disconnected from this immediacy; online stores and all the e-commerce websites remind us of that. After having made it around the world and set off to conquer space, man is now faced with a new challenge: conquering the time that structures his own frontiers. Given the measures that have been put in place all over the world to fight this Coronavirus epidemic and this sudden slowing down of time, we are discovering a new temporality. We are rediscovering the world – our world – in a time-space continuum built on slowness.
This slow time, this languidness reveals things that are hidden by speed. Experiencing another dimension of space and time is something that encourages us to draw on inner resources and unexpected meetings. This week’s ‘Digital Drinks’ between friends are an example: some people go out (by disconnecting), other come in, as we would if it were an open house where everyone could drop in as and when suited them, and where friends of friends sometimes turn into unforgettable encounters… There is much to be said for slow time and it proves, once again, that conviviality is not dead. Cooking, wine and friends, even via WhatsApp are here to remind us of that.
(This post was written by Guillaume Jourdan. Reach him via LinkedIn)