It is often the tales of those people facing a life-threatening incident that pierce the heart of the meaning of our existence. The current Coronavirus pandemic might not be too different from the times of the setting of Boccaccio’s Decameron, in which ten young people who escaped plague-ravaged Florence tell each other tales to ease time passing during their days of quarantine. At times when hope is scarce, some of us look back into our history, literature and arts to seek comfort, if not answers. And from that we are inspired to tell the stories of our own time by reaching out to women in our community, to document each individual’s own COVID story.
One theme we find common is women of our times exude contrasting energies by being comfortable with showing both their ‘fearless’ and ‘vulnerable’ sides at the same time in face of crisis. A strong manifestation of boldness or otherwise would almost seem too simplistic and downright naive in navigating these uncharted waters, let alone making sense of the hurt and suffering happening in the world.
Late January, Kate Mattison of Brooklyn-based band 79.5 was sent to the moon when she received the confirmation that her band would be playing at SXSW. “This opportunity means the world to us, and the chance to expose our message of solidarity, of friendship, of woman empowerment and motherhood to thousands is going to help us get to that next level.”
SXSW would definitely bring 79.5 to the next level, but it would also introduce a heap of obstacles to overcome. Not only did the band have the daunting task of fundraising their way to Texas, they also had to prepare a little extra room in their van for a special guest. Bassist, Adrienne, gave birth to a charming little boy in the Fall of 2019 and he was set to tour with his Mom and her bandmates.
Regardless of the hurdles thrown in their way, 79.5 had gathered enough support to make their trip to Texas a reality. However, it seemed a dark cloud had opened in the sky, and SXSW cancelled its 2020 festival due to COVID-19.
“Much of us are without work. I’m doing the best I can, and making the best of what I have. I’m writing a little more, teaching myself recording techniques and lots of yoga. However, I, like many of my friends, am admittedly having a hard time mentally and emotionally, it’s a lot to process right now. We just have to keep it moving.”
All across the world, people are facing unprecedented uncertainties that leave behind a trail of emotions, often unfamiliar to most. Historical events like these do not come with a set of guidelines or instructions to follow. They disrupt the system, and can easily affect people on a personal level. As the rhythm of life changes, one reflects on what is the dearest. “I’ve always been ever changing and evolving, I think this has taught me to slow down, and to focus on the very most important things in life. For me that’s family and music.”
The uncertainty in the air creates an ambiance that can feel very unsettling. However, there is always a bit of light beyond the mist if we look hard enough. Each day, don’t we all scroll through social posts to seek answers and comfort from the tales of those among us? Reading about others’ experiences have helped us get through the darkest times because they reveal how vulnerable each of us is, and remind us that none of us is alone. More than ever, we can feel how a strong community acting in unity will persevere and sustain future challenges. What we can do is learn from one another, fight with one another, and heal with one another. We see restaurants like Mimi Cheng’s in the East Village, spearheading initiatives like Dumplings for Doctors to feed our heroes on the frontline in NYC. Artists and brands from Rihanna to Chanel have pledged millions of dollars to numerous organizations throughout the world in response to Covid-19. Communities have come together to teach one another how to make their own masks, sharing their creative tips on social media. Some are awakened to a calling from their inner voice, often muzzled when times were easy.
“Once this quarantine is all over, I want to fight even harder for injustice in this country and take that hard-uncomfortable look at the systemic racism and corporate greed in America…We have to do our part now more than ever.”
*79.5 is a New York City based band that blends genres to create a transcendent and passionate musical experience. Get their music here on Spotify.