The virus has left its mark on us

Carmen Gomez

Some of you may wonder from reading past articles of mine, that I tend to veer towards the past or my childhood days because I have not come to terms with the ways of the present; or that I dislike its new technology. There is an element of truth in this, but it is not altogether accurate.

For most of my life I have been an artist and writer; never really engaging with the brave new digital world which came into force at a time when I had no need for it. I was caught up with life’s events, the sort that creep up on one and turn your world upside down. I have many a time confessed that I am a child of a past era where other values were in play. Values which gave me the fortitude and endeavour to do the many things I have done; some of which at the time have even astounded me.

Many of us of said era had no use for typing say, in our time as in the same way that letters were written in long hand, so too were accounts and sales if one worked in the retail trade. If we worked somewhere facing the public, we were taught to try and understand the client and his or her needs; always with a smile and a smidgeon of patience; giving each person their space and respect. Old fashioned etiquette perhaps, but appropriate of the time.

Love and Humility

Much of what my parents instilled in me and shared with me was done with caring, understanding and love. Love is a very powerful emotion. Antonio Machado said once “the truth is that happiness lasts while love lasts; because with love, “hasta morirse es bueno.” He too would always return to his childhood in his writings. He always had a scribbled paper in his pocket on which he had written “Those blue days and sun of my childhood.”

He was a man who knew how to appreciate beauty in the small things with humility and simplicity. The celebre Spanish poet, writer, playwright and republican, died in exile; away from his beloved country. This has been motive for reflection in these unfamiliar moments where dialogue, the truth, and love, have been our only arms to bear. It makes one think on how hard it must have been for those who have seen death approach of late: alone, with no loved one at their side; as if they too had been exiled.

Once when Machado spoke of death he said; “When that day of reckoning comes of the last journey and the ship is to depart, one which will never return; you will find me onboard with little luggage, nearly nude like the sons of the sea. Humility, it could be said, was second nature to him.

An ''US AND THEM'' Society

All of which brings me to comment on matters closer to home. In facing this cruel disease that has descended on the world with such vitriolic attack; gladly so far not in our small nation; it reminds me of the answer I was given by the gentleman I approached in Casemates square, just before the start of this pandemic. When having posed the question to him whether he was worried by what was happening around us; he looked me straight in the eyes and with a smile said “No Reina; because in Gibraltar we’re blessed.” Nevertheless, we have seen an alteration of our life styles and customs as never before envisaged.