(Blue City Lookout - Chefchaouen, Morocco 2020)
- APRIL 4, 2020 -
In late February, I moved from Tinghir to Chefchaouen to be closer to the artisans I’m working with for my Nomad Travel Bag project. I finished my last tour with Morocco Exchange on March 12, and we went into lockdown here in Morocco 3 days later.
It is now 23 days that I have been in self quarantine. And the natural instinct is to reflect upon how I have lived myself into this present moment. And what exactly is this present moment that I am in? And not just for me, but for the world, society as a whole, how did we get here?
How have we become so individualized, so narcissistic, that we can only look at ourselves, to our own preservation, and sustaining whatever level of comfort, protection, and wealth that we possess at any cost to others? Where is the community? The solidarity? The humanity? Or have we all just been playing gladiator part in the pursuit of the almighty dollar? Too busy doing well to do good. Has it always been this way?
We forget how connected we are. Our solitary bubbles are so fragile. We don’t just float around and bounce off each other unaffected … we can destroy, merge, create, change. And any one pop can cause that exponential chain reaction, reciprocating explosions and implosions.
Stability has always been a myth. It is the fairy tale they sold you. Name one moment in history when things have been certain or guaranteed.
We are all vulnerable. At any given moment, one could slip off the cliff. Even if you think that you are untouchable, surely standing on solid ground, it is possible that it is all just an illusion. No one is safe when we are so intimately connected. Money cannot save you from infection of a deadly virus. Money cannot save you from supply chain disintegration, or communication breakdown, or the utter lack of cooperation.
Millions that have just lost their jobs, or will lose their jobs in the coming months, due to entire industries collapsing (tourism for me), and will suffer the immediate loss of income. Most people already suffer, living hand to mouth, an estimated 40% in the USA alone, and not just the super poor, but it is said that 70% of that 40% are those that are earning a $200,000 combined income per year! Reports claim that most families could not survive an unexpected $400 expense, that they all exist one car problem or medical bill away from eviction, bankruptcy, destitution. One false step and you can lose it all. If we look to the global situation, it is even more depressing.
The majority of the world population exists dangerously close to the edge. The daily struggle is real. It is a luxury to be able to plan for a future. When you can only think about how you will get your next meal, you don’t have time to dream, let alone plan for a future, or acquire access to any resources to make bold moves. We forget that.
I am one of the lucky ones, I do have the luxury of planning for the future. With a small bit of savings, family and friends who support me in my endeavors, coupled with the fact that I am currently residing in a developing country, earning dollars and paying in dirhams, all have given me a small bit of space to breathe in this perilous moment.
This space to breathe is the single most significant silver lining for me, and the most precious. Inshallah, I will make good use of this forced time of reflection, to reevaluate and recalibrate with honesty and astuteness. I hope to be able to continue to move my Nomad Travel Bag project forward, establish a steady income stream, and create jobs for Moroccans in the process. And if we are all as connected as I believe, my hope is that my little bubble can expand, and I will be able to carry others along with me.
A new personal mantra has been adopted. And I repeat it to myself whenever I feel my footing slip, slide, or lift off ...
Everything coming to you is a gift.