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June 24, 2021

from “The Art of Isolation: Amsterdam in Corona Times,” SPAQ, by Kimmen Sjölander

But is there a silver lining for the world in this Covid pandemic? Or, to put it differently, in the language of logotherapy, what is the meaning of this time?

At any moment in time, all sorts of futures are possible—an uncountably infinite number of possible futures. Which future happens is only partly outside our control. To a great extent, it’s up to us.

And just as in research, when certain ideas are so ripe that multiple groups can simultaneously invent a novel approach (often leading to battles over patents and Nobel Prizes), the meaning of certain points in history is not only what ends up happening, but what could have happened. It’s the choice, the branch-point, the fork in the road, and the decision made. It’s not just the inn you find by accident after many hours on the road and the person you meet there who becomes the mother or the father of your children, and the stories you tell for years later about how lucky you were that you didn’t turn left instead of right; or the person next to you at the bar who puts something in your drink when your back is turned so that you wake up hours later in a room, alone, with your wallet and your dignity gone, and the stories you will tell then. When all of that is in the future, the meaning of a moment is in all the possible paths forward. Some lead to justice and a healthier planet, but some do not.

The meaning of this moment in time, of these Corona times, is in what path we choose to take. That is the meaning of this time . . .

Wisdom and the will to change: this would be the greatest silver lining.

—Kimmen Sjölander, “The Art of Isolation: Amsterdam in Corona Times,” Still Point Arts Quarterly, Summer 2021

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