Covid and the lost art of vacilando

As another Sydney covid lockdown creeps ever so slowly into its eighth week. Tight restrictions as to where and why we can leave our home are likely to grind on for another two months at best. The closure of social establishments such as cafes, restaurants and pubs, not to mention libraries, gyms,  ect. has left people listless and lethargic to say the least , stuck working at home if they are lucky enough to have kept their jobs.

Most of my work is done out doors (plein air), so I thought I’d check with the local police re: legality of setting up my easel outside to paint. After some friendly banter around the ambiguity of my predicament , it was decided that as it was not an ‘Essential service’. I would not be allowed to continue. So I am relegated to studio works indoors for now.

It may be hard for one to examine some perspective in these difficult circumstances when you’re in the midst of a lockdown , however I am grateful I do not live in a country dealing with military invasion , famine ect. I have the luxury, as do my neighbours, of being able to exercise and stroll  along the picturesque harbour side, go to the supermarket to buy fresh produce and purchase wine from the boutique bottle shop up the road. 

 I find joy in my ‘spare time’ during ‘lockdown’ to engage in some light reading.  I don’t hold any social media accounts or watch Netflix ect, and so find solace in literature. Some revisited shorts including Jack Kerouak’s ‘On the  road’ , a smattering of Hemingway, Charles Bukowski and an enjoyable frolic through  ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, posthumously.

Which brings me to John Steinbeck’s piece ‘ My Travels with Charlie’ detailing his travels across America with his pet dog. In the book he mentions how he discovers the Spanish word (verb) VACILANDO .

Quote: “ In Spanish there is a word for which I can’t find a counter word in English. It is the verb vacilar, present participle vacilando. It does not mean Vacillating at all. If one is vacilando, he is going somewhere, but does not greatly care whether or not he gets there, although he has direction.

 He continues poignantly,

“Who has not known a journey to be dead before the traveller returns? The reverse is also true: many a trip continues long after movement in time and space have ceased.”

 Urban Dictionary Definition: Vacilando is a Spanish term for the act of wandering when the experience of travel is more important than reaching the specific destination.

 Sentimental reminiscing aside, travelling with no Itinerary (vacilando) has mostly been the way for me, both as a teen and through my twenties as a sign writer travelling around Australia and the last 25 years as a professional fine artist travelling the globe. I hope all these restrictions will soon be lifted so we can travel freely again.

IRENA KUREK-BRADEN  (1930- 2021)

On the 14th May 2021, I was in Canberra cleaning out my mothers house as I knew she would not be returning from the nursing home. I received a call at 4am from the emergency department at the Calvary hospital . I rushed in to see her and was told to wait outside until covid related paper work had to be finalised. I was finally led to a small room and sat by my mothers bedside. I held her hand until she passed away.

Irena Kurek-Braden was born in Budapest ,Hungary and lived through the second world war when the Germans occupied Budapest and then through the Hungarian revolution some years later as the Russian soldiers rolled their tanks and guns through the streets .In 1956 she escaped to an Austrian refugee camp, eventually setting sail to Australia as a refugee to start a family. She was ninety one when she died. I will greatly miss her motherly wisdom and grace. Above all, I will miss her love.