Your wake-up call for how you’re living your life right now
Buses with only one person on board
All fares free
City sidewalks empty
I’ve heard that the only two times global warming slowed were when the Cold War happened
and the stock market crashed
I wonder if this is another
It’s eerie, almost
But the birds are louder
I wonder, if all stores
if all systems
Would that be sad?
Or would the world thrive
The sun looks at me
She is setting
Golden hour doesn’t mind what it touches
She shines her light on the
homeless man singing to himself
The boys with their beer cans
Who dies when businesses suffer
People who have less
Who dies when the earth warms
I walk so slowly it is worrisome
No one comes near me
My shadow is the only one I can see on the
entire stretch of sidewalk
And if I woke up tomorrow and the streets were even quieter
Would I mind
I might not mind
See, if the news isn’t on
if other people’s opinions are not
accessible through every platform
There is room for contemplation
And what arises
Not worry, but planning
Not anxiousness, but consideration
Not sadness, but maybe grief
Not resistance, but understanding
The flowers are magnificent, this time of year
The trees a home of shade
Magnolias like teacups
Cherry blossoms like snow
I have been waiting for weeks for the magnolias to open
Today I finally saw the inside of one
She let me pull her petals down, slowly
There are white flowers on vines with six petals
The purple ones have already bloomed and disappeared entirely
A man with a shopping cart full of Things
I think what is more interesting than watching the computer, the television
Is noticing what the natural world is doing around you, day by day
Do you notice?
The world, the way we live in it, is not sustainable. Environmentally, but also emotionally.
The way we relate to ourselves and to one another shows up in the way we relate to and make sense of our environment.
Everybody sees something different when they look at a tree. A woodworker might see something with which to make a table. A paper mill will see paper. A developer will see something blocking profitable space. An animal might see food, or shade.
Most people would not spend much time thinking about the tree, even less so if the tree was not sprouting pretty flowers, or tossing off colorful leaves.
And what I am offering is the invitation for a tree to be a friend. A fellow species. Another being, inhabiting the earth.
This might seem woo, but it’s not. We only experience the tree in our relationship to the tree.
With human eyes, we see something entirely different than what a dog will see, what a rabbit will see. Not just different in terms of thought, but different in terms of literal vision. You see only the colors your eyes can see.
You relate to the tree through your past experience with other trees, through the word “tree” itself, which has been taught to you, and to the ways humans have shown you to relate to trees.
You can consider this about a tree, and you can consider it with anything.
We create the meaning we see in the world. In this way, we literally create what we see in the world.
And right now, humanity is seeing the world in a particular way, and that way has us headed for our own self-destruction.
Viruses, pandemics are not new. But as Alanna Shaikh spoke about in her viral TED talk, the more we continue to push our way into areas of the world we haven’t been in before, the more we tear apart other beings without a thought for what’s next… the more viruses (and floods, fires, and other destruction) will continue to occur.
Nothing is new, but it is escalating.
You can relate to this pandemic in any way you choose.
In my mind, the only effective way to relate to it – if you want to live in a world filled with pleasure, joy, and aliveness – is to allow it to be a wake-up call.
It can feel like a potent, silent moment of awareness: Are you happy? Do you like the way you show up in the world?
If you died tomorrow, would you say yes, I’ve taken every risk, I’ve lived my life in the way I most wanted, I’ve contributed?
There is never a good time or an easy time to challenge your perceptions and your thoughts.
There is never a right time to decide you create your own meaning and that you’ll live life and show up in the world the way you choose.
Leave the relationship. Change the job. Say what has been left unsaid. Do the things that make you feel alive that you always say you’ll get to later. Explore the pleasure potential of your own body.
The natural world is stunning. Art is stunning.
And a large part of the rest of the world that humans have created is trying to restrict our innate nature, our aliveness, and our ability to continue our existence on this planet.
If you liked this piece, you might also enjoy:
– maybe one day I will tell my children
– the crows, unconcerned, will be happy to eat our bodies when they fall
– Finding pleasure during the time of pandemic (and crisis in general)
– You were never a virgin and nothing was ever taken from you