Yesterday I rode the S-bahn for the first time in at least six weeks. The cars were empty, aside from the occasional straggler. The lights were turned off. The doors opened automatically at each stop, though it took me three rounds of pressing the green button (with my elbow) on auto-pilot before remembering not to. I didn’t touch the bars. I sat in my empty four-person seat with my hands in my lap and watched the city rush by.
The sky was tipping toward evening, a cloudless bluish grey. The tops of the buildings were dipped in molten neon pink. It felt like being on a black-and-white train, chugging through a rainbow world.
We don’t hear a lot about hope these days. The news tells about reported cases, death tolls, mask shortages, relief funds running out. There’s a general uncertainty throughout the world. People are suffering. Everything’s cancelled. Everyone is sitting at home, waiting. The artists are pent up in their cages.
It’s a time to pause and look around. Pausing in motion, when outside in Berlin, because even though convening is discouraged, walking is not. The old outlets are off limits. Berliners are barred from the clubs, the libraries, the cafes, the theaters. We’ve got to get creative so we don’t spiral out, as they say in German. If we were kids, sitting cross-legged, staring at the spinning top our fingers had sent across on the floor, here’s where we’d start wondering if its very center point were stationary. In boredom lies new possibilities.
I can’t impart any brilliant wisdom. My mind is overflowing with ideas—I’ve been reading a lot. And trying to move my body every day. I remind myself that art is the net that catches me when I’m in distress. It’s a glimmer of hope in times of uncertainty. It’s the tip of a building dipped in light.