This year had many moments that sparked emotions en masse.
It continues to tease our comfort zones in ways we've never thought imaginable, but living through it, we've learned new lingo as it makes us a new transitional norm, and within this new norm, we've redefined what space is.
Safe spaces versus infection-prone. Space between each other that secures us from an invisible beast. We experienced our busy noisy cities, quietly on foot. Even seasons were redefined by how virus friendly they might be, only to discover there is hardly anything friendly about a pandemic.
How do spaces shape us and how do we shape them?
What is it about a moment in the space-time sphere that can bring such intense reminiscence?
Midsummer, we had a real break here in Amman. We really believed the virus has seized to be near. We were given a moment to breathe and bring back a bit of the old normal. We gathered, we hugged, we socialized, and found our way back to older but still familiar routes of adventure.
I went to Wadi Rum with a group of close friends. I stole a moment of solitude in the middle of the desert. I found a rock and sat watching the desert and the rocky hills as I took glimpses at my friends' walking away in one direction until I could see them no more. I knew where the camp was but I couldn’t see it either. A feeling of aloneness came. A vulnerable and anxious moment yet with a great view. I tried to sit with it so it goes away. It didn’t. I walked up a bit so I could see the camp from above. Comfort came back and found me another rock to make me a chair.
At that moment, the gorgeous view amongst stillness and quietness was significantly larger than me. Observing as I was, I couldn’t silence how tiny and insignificant I felt without a glimpse of a base. Even if it was new and temporary and even if it wasn’t mine nor were the people who call it home any more than total strangers.
It’s just remarkable, this ability of ours to adapt and find new spaces we feel safe to label a home.
Early this fall, I had a chance to reminisce about digital spaces with a youthful crowd. Preparing for the event, I wanted some visual aids to help recall events chronologically and show how digital spaces looked during the ’90s and 2000s. The Internet Archive came to the rescue and I was able to take screenshots of websites all the way back to 1997! The moment that brought digital life to a few in Amman.
Thinking of how we could’ve dealt with this pandemic in absence of digital spaces is probably more dystopian than this pandemic lasting a few more years. Although the generation that witnessed the last pandemic mostly didn’t live to witness this one, yet you can’t escape the idea that on some subconscious level, the creation of the internet and mobile technologies were invented so we can survive global disasters just like this one!
At another outdoor event, a multi-generational group reflected on a physical space that shaped their experience in the city and how it became the launchpad of their imaginations. The intimacy each had with the space, the level of ownership of its history and the pride of having been part of its story was touching and real.
The key factor that made such a physical space so memorable in my view was the unlimited level of freedom it facilitated onward and outward. Rendering a collective experience of gratitude and later transcendence beyond the limits of the actual physical space. It didn’t only leave a memory to reminisce but brought a transformation of how we can practice inner freedom outside of whatever is called norm.
I believe we create all sorts of spaces. We shape them only to find out that they have shaped us in return. We continue to find them, recreate them within and with others for whatever purpose they may have. Driven off a need to be and become.