We can’t live in fear. Fear stimulates a future that makes living in the present a dark experience.
Global (27 July 2020) – Renowned author Isabel Allende has been living in the United States for 30 years and is currently in lockdown at home with her husband and two dogs.
Allende, whose works sometimes contain aspects of the genre magical realism, is known for novels such as The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espíritus, 1982) and City of the Beasts (La ciudad de las bestias, 2002), which have been commercially successful. Allende has been called “the world’s most widely read Spanish-language author.” In 2004, Allende was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2010, she received Chile’s National Literature Prize. President Barack Obama awarded her the 2014 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Allende’s novels are often based upon her personal experience and historical events and pay homage to the lives of women while weaving together elements of myth and realism. She has lectured and toured many U.S. colleges to teach literature. Fluent in English, Allende was granted United States citizenship in 1993, having lived in California since 1989.
In an interview with AFP via video call from her home near San Francisco, Allende talks about her vision for a post-pandemic world.
When asked about the main fear implying the virus, she said “since our daughter Paula died 27 years ago, I have lost my fear of death forever. First, because I saw her die in my arms, and I realised that death is like birth, it’s a transition, a threshold, and I lost my personal fear. At this moment if I catch the virus, I belong to the group of the most vulnerable, I’m 77 years old, and I know that if I catch the virus, I could die; this possibility at this point in my life is very clear, but I look at it with curiosity and without fear.”
Allende says that this pandemic has taught her to free herself from things.
“It has never been so clear to me that I need very little to live. I don’t need to buy, I don’t need more clothes, I don’t need to go anywhere, or travel, now I see I have too much. I don’t need more than two dishes! Then I started to realise who the true friends are and the people I want to be with.”
When asked about the teaching of the pandemic for the collective, Allende explains that COVID-19 is teaching us how to sort out priorities and show us reality. This pandemic underlines the inequalities of opportunity and resources in which society lives globally.
Some pass the pandemic on a yacht in the Caribbean, and others go hungry, on the streets or at home locked in. It also brings the message that we are one family. What happens to a human being in Wuhan has a reflection on the entire planet.
“We’re all connected, and that’s really evidence of the tribal idea that we’re separated by groups and that we can defend our small group from other groups is an illusion. There are no walls, or walls that can separate people. The virus has brought a new mindset and today a large number of people, among them: creators, artists, scientists, young men and women, are moving towards a new normal. They don’t want to go back to old normality.
The virus invited us to design a new future. What do we dream for ourselves as global humanity? I realised we came into the world to lose everything. The more you live, the more you lose. First, you lose your parents or very sweet people, your pets, some places and then slowly your own mental and physical faculties. We can’t live in fear. Fear stimulates a future that makes living in the present a dark experience. We need to relax and appreciate what we have and live in the present.”