Thirtysomething

Zsuzsa Darab

2020 - 2021

Hungary; Spain

As we grow older, we feel that time passes more quickly. We perceive more and more stimuli, yet the situations are also more familiar, so we are less surprised by them. We want to do more and more things in 24 hours which remain the same despite our feeling of its pace. We do not stop even for a minute. We compete with time, more precisely, with ourselves. However, the pandemic situation forced us to stop. Time has changed somehow; it passed differently. It goes differently. It slowed down. The same 24 hours seemed longer. It wandered like when we were children. I’ve always been excited about time travel, now it felt like I had the ability to do it. The rush of everyday life was replaced by an absolute still life. I got into a slow-motion recording; suddenly, all the time in the world was at my disposal. I was finally able to stop. I was finally able to quiet down. I could finally make myself the top priority. As a master of procrastination, I finally achieved a point where I had to face the past to be able to have a future. What a timing, right?

A year has passed without me actually realizing it was over. A year has passed, and everything has happened with actually „nothing” happening. Seemingly, of course. But actually, this was a very important year. It has restructured many lives, just as it has mine. I was driven by these changes, lessons, fears, insights, individual, shared and/or parallel stories, engaging in dialogue with them, reflecting on them, and by combining them with my own experiences. In the meantime, I had to face that my problems where not at all that „special”. No two stories are the same, of course, but there is an abundance of eerie similarities…

Then world opened up again and there was that panic of having to open the door. To some extent, everything continued where it was left off, but not exactly. Interestingly, expectations did not change. The familiar questions came pouring in: „So, do you have a proper job yet? Are you still living with a flatmate? When will you get married? Family? You know, your biological clock is ticking…” The tremendous pressure was back. And it resulted in easier situations for some and more difficult for others, because even if expectations have not changed, the soul has all the more.

As Imre Kertész put it:

„I would move on, but feeling of uncertainty trembles within, an irrepressible nostalgia. For I too was jealous of my solitude, the intimate hours of reading and selfcastigation, the latent source of power in loneliness, the entire old and, as it were, defiant way of existence that accreted to me, the fact that I lived incessantly confronted by the forces of destruction, setting myself in opposition to them, so to speak, like an arrowhead on a bow…It was a great adventure, a joy, and upon which I now look back like an old man upon his youth.”*

*Imre Kertész: Someone else (A Chronicle of the Change) (Translated by Tim Wilkinson)

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