What a week it has been! The news each day more sobering and depressing than the day before. I could feel myself growing more anxious by the minute. Coronavirus was dominating my thoughts, my email inbox and seemingly every conversation. Then, out of the blue, this quote from Kitty O’Meara appeared in my Instagram. I felt my spirit lift. It was a ray of hope. It made sense to me and helped me to make some sense of this senseless pandemic.
And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.
I don’t know anything about Kitty O’Meara. There were only two posts on her Instagram account when I checked, one of them containing the poem I am sharing here. I can’t say any more about Kitty’s thoughts and hopes when she posted these words. I am also aware that how they speak to you might be different than how they speak to me. And that is good because it creates an ever greater breadth for hope.
The vision that came to my mind was one of a First World that was ready to take seriously climate change, and who is not only ready to, but able to, live differently. Does this seem like a bit of a leap to take from Kitty’s beautiful and inspiring words? Let me say more.
We know that knowledge and information is not enough to change behaviour. Experience and practice are the best catalysts for change. For a long time we have known about the dangers. We have heard the predictions for the trajectory we have been on. We know the dangers of global warming. We all know how serious the environmental situation is. Right now the pandemic is forcing us to live differently. Restrictions on travel, spacial distancing, empty supermarket shelves, long dole queues. And it is early days yet. We have a long way to go to get to the other side of this. And, sadly, some of us won’t make it through. It truly is a frightening time. Some are speculating that the corporate world may never return to it’s former glory. There will be deaths, many jobs lost, much anxiety, grief and suffering. It will not be easy. How will we manage? Generations before us have had to find their way through not dissimilar circumstances. One comfort might be that we are in this together. It is effecting us all.
My hope is that being forced to live with less, in a much smaller world, we will gain new skills and competencies that will enable us to continue to live more simply and conducively towards the health of the whole planet once the Coronavirus pandemic is over.
Right now, just imagine the effect on the atmosphere of all those grounded airplanes. Already there are stories of human inventiveness and kindness in these challenging times. Like the musicians in Italy performing on their balconies while their neighbours enjoyed the music from their own balconies and the restaurants in Melbourne taking free meals to community members unable to leave their homes. Coronavirus has already made things, ‘life’, different. Let’s hope that when it is all over things, ‘life’, might actually be better.
Stay strong, stay connected and stay well.
“Only a crisis produces real change” – Milton Friedman