Letters from Cardiff in lockdown: Olga Kaleta

Today’s instalment for the Letters from Cardiff in lockdown series comes from Olga Kaleta, circus and theatre maker, and Head of Youth at NoFit State Circus. We’re still open for stories, so if it’s taken you a while to put it together, it’s all good with us – please contribute to Letters from Cardiff in lockdown.

Part One: about time 

Now is the time.
What for?
NOW is the time.
To do what?
NOW is the TIME.

***

Here I am. In this hour of the morning in which the world is just about awake.

Here I am. With the singing of the birds. With the humming of the insects. With the gentle gasps of wind.

Here I am.

The world came to a halt. And listen, it’s like nothing really happened. Nature is thriving in the most unpretentious way. There is so much we can learn from her quiet confidence.

Now is the time to do nothing.

***

The lockdown has now been officially imposed. I was down with the idea all along but now that the psychotic overgrown cabbage patch kid said we have to, I must admit, I’m finding it so much harder to comply.

***

Stop. Breathe.

***

Here WE are…reduced to our personal bubbles…self-isolated in our little worlds. Animals are clearly delighted to finally see humans trapped in the cages of their own making. Taking themselves out for a walk once a day. Finally, they can understand what it is like not to be able to enjoy the world the way it’s been intended.

***

Woke up to find a missed call from my mum. She never rings outside of the Sunday afternoon window. I dreaded the news she was trying to deliver. My dad would be classed as vulnerable although he’s been self-isolating ever since I know him. I ring her back, terrified of the news that awaits me. She picks up laughing and says I shouldn’t let the impending collapse of the creative industries get to me. She heard there are plenty of jobs at Lidl going. Afterwards, she sent me a video of a toucan singing “Don’t worry be happy” as a final consolation.

***

Time is linear.
Time is circular.
Time is multiactive.
Time is an undeniable delusion.

***

It’s Chris’ funeral today. Few weeks ago, the chapel would be packed with people wishing to say farewell. But now there’s only a handful of people scattered around, unable to comfort each other. Chris loved sci-fi and fantasy. Little did he know dying in an old world that he would be buried in a new one.

I almost said, “good old world”. But it wasn’t. This one isn’t great either. Right now, it’s proper weird…but many of us can spot beacons of hope falling through the cracks. Sometimes you need to get worse to get better… But sometimes you don’t get better…sometimes you die.

***

The experience of time is universal. The attempts to make sense of it, are all man-made choices, inherent to the cultures that breed us.

***

The world is changing. We’ve been accelerated towards the future. Everyone is confined to their own custom-made digital reality. Human touch is a commodity.

I am afraid to cry. I’m afraid to admit that I’m scared. I’m scared to fall apart. What if I’m not able to comfort myself?

It’s okay to do nothing.

***

I was born and bred in a culture that regards time as leaner. The only way is forward. There is no looking back. Time is unstoppable. Time is precious. Time is a resource. Wasting it is unforgivable.

So much time has passed. What have you got to show for it? Nothing but those Gray Gardens…

***

The dusk just settled and the whole of Bristol feels like a holiday village. Streets are quiet and empty. Everyone is chilling indoors after a busy day of doing absolutely nothing. So peaceful.

***

Homeless and prisoners are forced to self-isolate in masses for a single trembling croak. What does it matter? Were their lives ever worth living?

Police issuing fines to homeless for being outside. Are you fucking kidding me?

I am a lucky one. I am worth saving. Just! For now!?

***

On Tuesday the 31st of March a girl, aged 12 died in Belgium. The youngest victim of the virus to date.

***

Stop. Breath.

***

On Tuesday the 31st of March police in Kenya shot a 13 year old boy who stood on his balcony past the curfew.

His name was Yasin.

***

Stop. Breath.

***

I’m not afraid of dying. What I am afraid of is not to be able to feel the skin of my loved ones before I perish. We are born alone, and we die alone. But this is too literal.

***

The pigeon just sat on the roof of the shed. He is a moderately regular visitor but only since lockdown that his cooing got unbearably loud. It’s clear he’s looking for a mating partner. The theories say that now there’s no traffic noise the birds can hear their contenders more distinctly, therefore need to put more effort into their own allurement. Oh, sweet horny pigeon, you and I are not that different. There’s not much more I want from this world then a little piece of earth where I can make love.

***

Ecuador’s health system has collapsed. People are forced to store dead bodies of their loved ones on their living room floor…

***

Stop. Breath. Change Direction.

***

We live for pleasure. A meaningful pleasure. The kind of pleasure that isn’t replaced by shame as soon as the moment has passed. Pleasure that resonates beyond the moment in which it seems necessary.

We live for each other. For the touch, the smell and the smile. For the sharing of the joy and wonder.

Today I wrote a porno.

***

Stop. Breathe.

***

Tiny yellow spider is stretching its web between two branches of the raspberry bushes. Oh sweet, tiny yellow spider, you and I are not that different. There’s not much more I want from this world than to build a home.

***

The time ticking at the core of my soul is circular and it is multiactive. There are cycles within cycles. Each one is different in scale and velocity. They exist concurrently in a perfect harmony. Respect them all, but only tune in to those that serve you in the moment.

***

A single magpie bobbing around the garden like it is the king of the castle. Let’s hope magpies are not too strict when it comes to self-isolation. We all know how the saying goes … Mr Magpie, next time, do indulge us, and bring a mate with you, will you?

Mister Magpie, you and I are not that different. There’s not much more I want from this world then to be free to choose between the right to solitude and the need for a company.

***

There are an infinite number of ways to exist in this world. Why are we so fixated on the idea of finding one that fits all?

***

It’s okay to do nothing.

***

I’ve been watching sad movies in order to make myself cry. Nothing! I wonder if it’s in any way connected to the unprecedented levels of sexual frustration. Perhaps this sort of release won’t be available to me until I have an orgasm that isn’t self-inflicted. I hope I won’t cry whilst… worse even…what if we both cry!?!

***

The only way is forward. There is no looking back. To return would be to admit to failure.

***

It’s okay to do nothing. The time spent looking after your mental health is time well spent.

***

The world came to a halt. Feels like an emergency stop. Yes, we all suffered a serious whiplash, many of our loved one have died…but we’re still here, panting, staring at the precipice. Let’s not start the engine, only to tumble off that edge. Surely, there’s more than one way to go from here…

***

Change of mind should be celebrated, not hold up to shame. Change of mind is not admittance of failure, but an exercise in resilience. Only this that can change can continue.

Stop. Breath. Change direction. Bring what feels useful.

***

A friend of mine told me, she’s finally getting into the rhythm of things. Two months have passed … We live on a fucking treadmill! The world was put on hold and it took us two months to reconnect with it. Being still is a long-lost skill. I hope we’ll continue to practice it once the cogs start turning again (a bit slower this time I hope).

Happiness is to be present and intentional.

***

Now is the time
What for?
NOW is the time.
To do what?
NOW is the TIME

Now is the time to undo everything.

***

Olga Kaleta is a circus and theatre maker, co-director at The Bad Eggs,  and Head of Youth at NoFit State Circus.

Want to write for Letters from Cardiff in lockdown? Find out how here…

See also:

***

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