Sometimes life slides sideways unexpectedly. As a global pandemic wraps around the planet, every day brings news of the next surreal event. Natural disasters like hurricanes and forest fires upend life as we know it, but the spread of a contagious virus so widely is new for most of us. Life goes along routinely until it doesn’t, which is always surprising and unsettling. We are so connected that we can find news at the swipe of a finger and it’s easy to get caught up. There’s confusion, apprehension, uncertainty and waiting. Fear. No one knows how long this will last or how we will be affected. Will we be seriously ill or dead in a few days or weeks? Will we lose family members, friends, coworkers? it’s impossible to know anything for sure.
Email messages have been arriving from unexpected places. A community art gallery reminds me that artists are creative, adaptable, resilient and empathetic—qualities that we should bring to the current situation. A quilt shop assures me that they are taking extra hygiene steps, that I can order online, and that family is the most important thing. A medical clinic informs me that only one person may accompany a patient to an appointment and that others must wait outside. Plans are being made to hold meetings remotely. Social distancing is a term that has just entered common use.
I have been in a self-imposed exile all winter due to hosting a different, more common virus that takes a long time to recover from. I’ve been fatigued, feverish, and lost my appetite. My spleen was enlarged for weeks and lymph nodes were swollen and painful. My ability to eat and tolerate activity has been on a roller coaster but now I’m certain I’m through the worst of it. Strength and motivation is returning. I don’t miss the ten pounds that magically melted away, although is strange to wear loose baggy clothing. The idea of another virus doesn’t appeal to me at all, but I am philosophical about it. I’ve been hunkered in all winter and am prepared to hunker in for awhile longer.
Spring is always a time of hope for me as the daylight hours grow longer, the snow melts, and I look forward to going barefoot, gardening, and enjoying all the other delights of a warmer season. I planted tomato seeds six weeks ago and have been nurturing them indoors as I do every year. But now, the promise held within seeds takes on even more significance. There is so much wrong with the world and I am paying attention to it. But there is also a lot right with the world which gets short shrift in the news cycle and continuous communication of horrors. Seeds are miraculous and this afternoon I deliberately planted more seeds in order to remind myself of what is right and good and hopeful. Little miracles surround us in the life that goes on in the soil, the air, the water. Observing the natural world is comforting because of its indifference to human drama. This is why I like to watch bees or a river flowing or clouds drifting by. It’s not about me or anything to do with people. Life goes on whether we’re here or not.
This is what I want to remember while I’m watching microgreens and pea shoots grow. When I pick and taste them. I want to remember that whatever happens, it will be all right. Things will go on. The world is always changing, always has been.
So wash your hands. Stay in touch with those you care about. Be kind. Feel uncertain or afraid or whatever, but don’t collapse. Find some hope wherever it dwells, in the little things. Carry on. It’s spring, after all.