Panama 2020 – Last Show On Earth Ep 4
I think people took my desire or determination to stay as a joke at first. There is a strong instinct to head for home in times of crisis, but things were looking just as grim on the home front. ‘Come back and let Boris look after you’? Seriously? The UK had responded really badly to the whole situation, but while I wanted to be there for my friends and family, for our companies suddenly thrown into nosedive, there was little I could do to change anything. That’s assuming I could even find a way to get back!
People were of course panicked and that swept you up too. My personal situation in the UK wasn’t so great to weather this storm, living in a caravan in a rural location as a non-driver, every bit of work cancelling, and the whole debacle just about to start expanding rapidly. While here we were, on a remote and secure section of coastline with no cases in the area, surrounded by coconuts and seafood with the entire site infrastructure still in place, and an established supply line of resources. Am I missing something here?
So I am missing this moment, this vision that has temptingly haunted and taunted me down the years. The vision that you could taste out on a mountain bike at 4 am in London’s balmy summer heat, or imagine when the lights go out in a power cut and the city stops for a moment, and you feel your heart beat, now it is here. Or should I say there, as I am here, a world away, in a pocket of resistance. A bubble of freedom, secreted and ensconced upon this distant shore. Far far away, a time before the rat race and the mighty deluge, but a haven that now too must surrender its refuge, to this, the greater war, and I miss you all, how I miss you all.
Secluded but not deluded, in these last days apart,
Liberating and navigating as prisoners of our art,
Within these pockets of freedom is the only peace to be found,
But for now they are but a memory, sleeping in the ground,
The times we came together, and the times things fell apart,
A time to step outside our heads and listen to our hearts,
In the free fields on summers evenings, and nights we danced til dawn,
As we watched the old world dying and a new world being born,
The troubles that besiege us, are also soon to pass,
As we will always remember the first, know this is not the last,
For our time is just beginning, though many have had to pass,
And all of us must take our chance now the die is freely cast.
I would get caught up in the inertia, but when I took myself away down the beach or back to the studio and really thought about it, here seemed the safest place in the world to be, and where I had the most opportunity to keep some kind of creative output going on. Had the embassy shown up with a guaranteed flight I would certainly have considered taking it, I really wanted to be there for my folks, who both live in quite isolated locations. But what also encouraged me to stay put, was that those that did make it home did so at great personal expense, or as with AJ and many others, ended up in a hostel in Panama City or trapped in another country.
It felt like people were jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, and every story I heard seemed to confirm that. We heard varying degrees of intense experience with uniformed authority, some did cruise straight through to the airport and home, while others slept on the ground by checkpoints, spent hours going through medical checks, or days in transit to end up in deserted hostels. Others found peachy beachy hideouts or disappeared into the jungle to sit by waterfalls and ponder it all. Home is where the art is!
Now we know nature can finally tame us,
Life is short and who’s to say,
The days of toil we gave away,
Could ever be repaid.
Now we had to stop the cities, the heart of the great machine,
And realise we are willing slaves when we could be living the dream,
So everybody pause now, step back and take a breath,
Looking out our windows, into the invisible face of death,
Remember time is not money and precious is life’s gift,
And it’s not dying we should be afraid of, it’s never having truly lived.