“Ontario is fastening a new set of restrictions as COVID-19 cases reach alarming heights.”
I woke up to this headline one morning.
A deep sigh set over me as gray clouds of frustration and hopelessness formed.
“I’m getting so sick and tired of this,” I mumbled. Then, I laid my head back down.
Someone came into the room.
“Sarah, have you heard the news? The government is now enforcing tighter shutdowns and distancing measures. The number of infections is on the rise. People have not been complying with the regulations and there aren’t enough beds to accommodate the number of people in need of intensive care.”
In a world where much is hidden beneath a thousand layers of bureaucracy, one thing is for certain: we are in the midst of unprecedented times and feel undeniably out-of-control.
There is no vaccine to quell the fear we feel as a collective. We are at the forefront of global disorder, face-to-face with catastrophe, in the dawn of a realization we cannot shut our eyes to. The truth looms over us like sun under a black sky as we stand in the middle of a desert under it, lost with no direction.
In the larger scheme, we have little to no control.
This awareness carries with it a foreboding as it rocks the foundation of an already tenuous sense of safety in our world today.
I go past the grocery stores and gas stations along the streets. There is a nervous energy in people, and I can feel it, unspoken, in the way they drive. People cut each other off left, right, and center, honk impatiently at the vehicles directly in front of them, not even a second after the light turns green, and speed through an open road as if they owned it.
The apparent façade of entitlement astounds me, but I do know one thing for certain: when people feel out-of-control, they look toward the only things and people they feel they can. I remind myself of Abraham Maslow and the hierarchy of needs. Physiological and safety needs have been compromised in most: no longer are we free from the grip of a deeply-rooted primal fear.
Finally, I make my way to the park where I take daily or bi-daily walks. This time, I sit in the car a little longer than usual.
What is this pandemic trying to teach us? I ask myself this question.
I think about how capitalism and the live-to-work matrix mentality have been destroying people’s mental, physical, and emotional health for decades and how we’ve all been fighting for an increase in wages. I think about how we take better care of our houses and our vehicles than we do of our own bodies when health should be our number one priority. Last but not least, I think about how climate change has eroded life on our planet and how we have conveniently turned a blind eye to the destruction of our oceans, our forests, and have subsequently endangered the lives of other living things.
Maybe, just maybe, it is time to slow down, live more mindfully and take better care of ourselves, each other, and the planet as a unit.
Maybe it is time for a revolution.
We need to honor the earth and the so-called more basic things that we so seamlessly let go of in our hearts and minds as holding any sort of significance to us and the way we live our lives now.
Then, I tap my consciousness back into the present. I look around me and I marvel at the trees, how the buds push themselves out each spring without fail, how the daffodils rise like the sun from a long slumber from beneath the ground, and everything in the natural world is in such perfect alignment.
This is our home for now, I think to myself. We may not have much, but our feet still touch the earth.
Humbly, I remind myself of an excerpt from a poem written by Mary Oliver, from her book called “Devotions.” In it, she states:
“look, I want to love this world as though it’s the last chance
I’m ever going to get to
and know it.”
So, what am I waiting for?
Fire rushes through me like a bright red sea. Every cell in my body swims through the waves of this exciting new awareness. I bathe in this vision as it cleanses me. I drink it in as it quenches the dryness of my formerly downtrodden soul. Slowly, as I come up for air, the grass on the land looks greener and the sunshine on my back feels like the warmest embrace. The breeze feels seductive as it caresses me. I’ve been kissed, I can’t help but think to myself, and perhaps for the very first time. Suddenly, I’m 16 again, my spirit ripe in a state of wonderment. I’m a virgin.
“I wish I could be more like you,” I once heard a loved one tell me. “You have such a reverence and appreciation for the simpler things in life.”
“The simple things are all we have,” I offer. “And in spite of what we may believe, they’re not as basic as we all too often perceive them to be, especially now.”
A calm wave of silence washed over us, gently lulling us back into the moment. Yes, I honor the earth. I love the soil, rain, thunder and I pray to the moon with the heart of a child in all of her whimsical naivety. Magic is alive to those who open their eyes long enough to look for it.
So, with that, I closed the news app, just for a little while, to breathe in the fresh clean air as it filled my lungs, and gave thanks.