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  • Bianca Vinther

2022: A New Beginning – A New Way of Listening, Seeing, and Living

How do you look at 2022? And how would you like to live it?

Closeup picture of an eye looking at a rainbow light

In the Vienna New Year on the 1st of January 2022, the world-class pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim praised the power of music to bring us together despite the Coronavirus anxiety, which has deeply divided us within the last two years. Maestro Barenboim addressed the human catastrophe caused by this virus of fear and appealed for unity through music.

His words tapped into my personal experience with COVID-19 and the emotions that accompany those memories. This is why his message touched me so profoundly as a human being and an artist.

Many human relationships have sadly been affected by fear and have even died with or of the anguish caused by the rapid spread of the Coronavirus across the globe and the social divide that politics and media have massively induced. Many, indeed. Some of my friendships vanished, too. The few true ones stayed, though.

In reviewing my own psychology during the pandemic period, I discovered a vivid progression from a feeling of insecurity and alienation to a growing sense of gratitude for all the challenges I’ve been through and the life lesson I’ve learned. A lesson about the world, human relationships, and the essence of art.

Leafless trees and mistle twigs in a forest in winter.
"Winter mood". Photography by Bianca Vinther

A little while after the first lockdown was enforced and the voice of fear began to thump so loudly across the world, I found a lot of comfort in my lifelong passions: painting and music. When the second lockdown came in Germany right before Christmas and when all forms of public culture were shut down, Maestro Barenboim’s words of wisdom, as expressed in the quote below, started to resonate in my head.

To make music, you have to listen. You have to listen [to] what the other one is doing, but you also have to listen [to] what you are doing and how it affects the other – this is the best school of human relations.”

I couldn’t silence them. These words were a constant reminder that humanity was in danger – the danger of losing its own nature. What happened to us, in fact? We stopped making art together. We stopped listening to each other. We become islands in an ocean of fear.

Maestro Barenboim’s words of wisdom will always move me. Because they chime so precisely with what I’ve taken away from my experience with the Corona pandemic. If I replaced “make music” with “make art” and “live life”, I’d conclude that the only sensible approach to living on planet Earth from now on is to listen deeply – to the other and to ourselves – and to observe profoundly how our doing affects the other.

This leads me to think that all we need to do this year is to adopt a new way of hearing, a different way of seeing, and a sense of wonder in the presence of everything that seems little, banal, and usual.

There’s a marvellous poem by the Swiss writer and psychologist Jürg Schubiger entitled Anderes jedoch (Something else, however), which speaks about the astonishing presence of life in all its seemingly common manifestations, and the power of human creativity. You can read it below.

Oh, most of it is so very common.

This dog, for example