One month on

When I sent a link to this blog to some colleagues yesterday I realised I hadn’t updated it for a month. In a way, it feels like it was yesterday; in another it feels like it was a lifetime ago. What a month it’s been.

Every entry in my journal since 24 February 2022 have included the line ‘Kyiv still stands and Zelenskiy still lives.’ After many of them follows a David Attenborough-style ‘for now’. I have written these words more times than I dared hope I would.

The war in Ukraine has brought a lot of fears, anger and pain to the surface of my thinking. But not many words. The war has created a nothingness in me that sucks up my creativity. Instead I try and fill it with other people’s words: articles, opinion pieces, passionate speeches and horrifying reports. Each morning I spend at least an hour reading whatever is new that day, in English and Swedish, and sometimes in tweets, grateful to everyone who stays alive and continues to write.

Last night I went to a Ukraine fundraiser at my local cinema, where they showed The Earth is Blue as Orange (2020) and held a Q&A with scholars from the University’s Centre for Ukrainian Studies. The film is a documentary about a family in the Donbas region who make a film about the 2014 Russian invasion. A creation about the creative process for another creation. In the film, young film maker Myroslava describes the war as an emptiness: the city and its buildings are empty of people, the air is empty of sounds, the forest is empty of life. The food shops, the water reservoirs, and people’s feelings are empty. I find this very easy to imagine.

Yet in the middle of all of this emptiness, Myroslava is called to create. Make something new, that is hers. It becomes a family project, which builds on the love and warmth the family already has. It’s a beautiful and moving juxtaposition of creation and destruction, of love and war, of blue and orange. All in a country that is currently led, heroically, by a former film maker and fellow creative.

It certainly moved me to pick up my writing again. If these film makers can keep telling stories, so can I. We have to, in order to understand each other and bring an end to the emptiness that conflict brings.

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