How I experience the global crisis in Amsterdam

We are in a liberal, fairly relaxed lockdown. No more meetings, only 2 people can be together in public, no events until June 1. We can still go to work, go for a walk but we are encouraged to stay home. During our daily walk, we saw the community police breaking up groups in parks. People still hung out together, still played football. There’s more police presence, people are getting more serious with the 1.5 meters distance rule.

We didn’t go to the office today, stayed mostly home. It was a reflective day, I’m drawn more and more to poets. With so many facts and non-facts floating around, it is a nice change of pace to immerse yourself in the wisdom of beautiful souls.

I’m looking for consolation, a way to reframe reality. One of those beautiful souls is Maria Popova, the curator and writer of Brainpickings. In my last visit to a bookstore for a while, I purchased her book ‘Figuring’. I finished it today and when I read the last page, I was consoled.

“Meanwhile, someplace in the world, somebody is making love and another a poem. Elsewhere in the universe, a star manyfold the mass of our third-rate sun is living out its final moments in a wild spin before collapsing into a black hole, its exhale bending spacetime itself into a well of nothingness that can swallow every atom that ever touched us and every datum we ever produced, every poem and statue and symphony we’ve ever known — an entropic spectacle insentient to questions of blame and mercy, devoid of why.

In four billion years, our own star will follow its fate, collapsing into a white dwarf. We exist only by chance, after all. The Voyager will still be sailing into the interstellar shorelessness on the wings of the “heavenly breezes” Kepler had once imagined, carrying Beethoven on a golden disc crafted by a symphonic civilization that long ago made love and war and mathematics on a distant blue dot.

But until that day comes, nothing once created ever fully leaves us. Seeds are planted and come abloom generations, centuries, civilizations later, migrating across coteries and countries and continents. Meanwhile, people live and people die — in peace as war rages on, in poverty and disrepute as latent fame awaits, with much that never meets its more, in shipwrecked love.

I will die.

You will die.

The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.”