This is a Vietnamese cleaning lady at Malmö Opera. I photographed her during the “We are Malmö Opera” book project 2017. I interviewed 54 individuals for that book and though the above woman wasn’t included, her colleague Tam Nguyen was.
I remember reflecting on the vocational distance between the lady cleaning seats, floors, and restrooms at the opera, and, for example, the musicians and singers. That the lady above, if she had been given the opportunity and encouragement, might have been a virtuoso cellist, conductor, or a soprano. Who knows, right?
I’ve always believed that everyone, every single person on the planet has the potential to excel in some field. That we are all, at least, to begin with, are at the mercy of circumstances that either inhibit or facilitate. The time and place we were born. Our parents. Our friends. We obviously have to recognize an opportunity and take advantage of it and not always choose the path of least resistance.
While I don’t know the backstory of the woman above, I am sure she feels that her life has turned out ok and that her children will have a much better opportunity to aspire to more than just surviving as she did.
In addition to being a fucking pain in the ass from a practical point of view, the pandemic can also be a bit of a “dream killer” – a creative inhibitor that squashes stuff I’d like to try and places I want to experience.
Even after so many months, I tend to forget about all the restrictions and mental hurdles the situation entails.
On the other hand, I also see this strange time as an interesting challenge. A time to figure stuff out and problem solve. A time for reflection and deduction. What’s important? How can I make use of my creativity to feel better, do better, live better, love better?
As Covid-19 continues to ravage the world, it reminds me of how fragile the lives we’ve taken for granted for so long are. That not unlike the lady above, we perhaps need to chill out and calm down. Be grateful. You know?