It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. Sure, that’s one way of putting it. Truthfully, as we stand in the eye of the storm – battling an unprecedented global pandemic, while simultaneously navigating the perils of socio-political upheaval, and a looming recession that will reverberate for years to come – anger is warranted. In fact, it’s to be expected.
And what more could go wrong? 2020: can we get an annulment? You are the year we wish we could erase (it’s one for the books, eh?. In all transparency, all we really want to do is give it a one-fingered salute – yeah, it’s likely known what I mean and even more likely that you share the sentiment.
I debated writing this blog as brass as it’s perhaps turning out to read. I mean, I don’t want to sound like a jaded millennial who is complaining about how hard my life really isn’t. Okay, can we finally acknowledge that maybe millennials have a bit of whining rights, having now lived through what will be two recessions and a perpetually problematic job market? Alright, I’m not about to play the which-generation-had-it-worse game, so let’s just say that it’s hard to keep the faith. While the Bon Jovi fan in me is cringing, I’m not about to forsake my truth for the sake of keeping up appearances. Suffice to say, it’s a hard time and let’s not place a blanket over a thorny rose bush, especially now. COVID-19 has pricked us so deeply, that the scars of which may seem like an unforeseeable fade.
So, imagine my surprise when during a time so blue, I was invited to be part of something that would force me to see the silver linings that lurk behind. Don’t worry, I intend to deliver on my promise of not painting a falsehood. This isn’t the point at which we delve into a cliched happily ever after. I’m still jaded, albeit my anxieties are diluted by the idea of possibility despite plaguing realities.
Let’s rewind back a few months to, well, oh gosh – we could be here a while. Do you blame me for not remembering definitive timelines? At this point, it’s every Monday. Anyway, where were we again? Okay, COVID-brain is real. Oh, right: it was shortly past noon in Toronto on another encumbering day filled with endless epidemic noise, and as I begin perusing the social networks, my flooded inbox (said in humility…no, really – most are spam, or ought to be!) contained a message from a friendly face named Timothy.
Timothy sent a text with a link attached. Great, I thought. Another invitation to take a course, amass more debt, and/or buy someone’s something. Heck, it’s a seller’s market out there. But nope. Timothy’s message was attached with a completed pitch deck outlining an artistic message of intention. As a producer, I get sent pitches, too, and they either spark something or fail to hit the mark entirely.
There was something about this narrative at this particular time. Frankly, the simplicity of its construction may have been enough to keep me reading; it didn’t discount the profundity in the story itself but served to elevate its honesty. I found myself dually intrigued and moved by the character’s journey. Timothy wasn’t selling a false narrative; he was selling a real one. Kind of like what I’m doing right now: being real with you, even if it’s not perfectly “blog-worthy,” or in trend with what we think we need to be consuming right now.
Southern Time is a story that stands to remind us of the very things we are in threat of losing: hope and empathy. One of life’s greatest paradoxes is that when you have so much to lose, you also have so much to gain. Loss provides the opportunity for rebirth and growth. Sure, it leaves a gaping hole, quite like what this pandemic is currently digging, but diamonds are found beneath the surface, too. Okay, admittedly cheesy but hopefully you get the point.
As a journalist, I’m frequently contacted by professionals or people with a story to share. And while trust is an earned privilege, I’m honored that strangers place this blind conviction in me by sheer virtue of my vocation. And maybe what struck me the most about his message was the simplicity of his request. It wasn’t wrapped in fancy packaging or promoting an illusion of grandeur. Southern Time is just a story of fighting against the odds, the rising phoenix who accelerates to great heights.
Southern Time is primarily about seeing the potential to triumph during the tragedy. It is about HIV/AIDS awareness and hopefully arousing our apathy toward suffering that continues despite our difficult moment in time. In the end, it’s about recognizing the moments that live on in the pains of those who won’t come out on the other side after this is over. As well as about confronting abuses of power and recognizing LGBTQ rights and the struggles of the marginalized, racialized and looking toward greater emancipation for those sectors of humanity.
Sometimes we need a saving grace. At a time when there is so much heartache and endless news scrolls (and I’m saying this as a journalist, imagine that) on the inevitable tragedies surrounding this contagion, hope is a much-needed reminder that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In keeping with this theme of honesty, I am tired. I am sleep deprived. It doesn’t help that shouldering a worldly burden of this magnitude is inescapable. You have to worry about loved ones going to work, a teetering optimism depending on the day’s newsreel, and a general feeling of claustrophobia under the threats of another lockdown.
But guess what? I’m glad Timothy reached out to me because it reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s never been about me. It’s why I am a journalist. And while I had a moment, I’m pushing through it to continue being a lens for the stories that never get their due. For the issues that warrant advocacy. And for the awareness that I strive to bring about through this dedication.
I’m so thrilled to be part of Southern Time. As it really is about time that we all took a moment to remember that through our pains is also the potentials to experience the euphoria of joy again. Just like Timothy did, which is all the more reason Southern Time is the kind of story we all need right now.
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