I suppose we all have quarantine stories by now. Worry, at the first sign of symptoms that you know intellectually to be allergy related. (Though it doesn’t stop me from checking my temperature a couple times a day … ) Homemade masks, either gifted to, or from you. An attempt (or ten) at journal writing or baking or organizing or art. Maybe a shopping trip and the panic you feel as you scurry past the people coughing or sneezing. I personally have mostly avoided stores, going only to the P.O. and even that is unnerving.
There are the arguments and the “too much togetherness” of those sheltered with others. And the loneliness of those who are not. We’ve missed celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. We’ve canceled vacations, getaways, hikes and road trips. And retreats. We are missing retreat time with others.
We are processing loss and grief in unfamiliar ways. We aren’t doing it in nature or with others. We aren’t in community, we are in isolation. We are staring right at it and it is staring right back. And we’ll walk through it. And we’ll be okay, but man … it’s hard.
While I take a hot bath every day, I only shower on the days with an “s” in them. I wear the same clothes, I forget the day of the week. I haven’t set an alarm for weeks. My body is creating it’s own clock and it’s own reminders. Time to eat, walk, drink water, get outside, look up …
I still have a half a tank of gas from my last fill-up three weeks ago. My skin needs some spring color. I feel like a ghost. Every day I wonder what I should wear. Is there something appropriate for the couch ? (For the record, today I chose my favorite t-shirt from NOLA, the one with an unfortunate hole in one armpit) Should I give my cheeks a little pink ? Dry my hair ?
Too much time on the internet started turning me into a pundit. Then a doctor. I’ve diagnosed the problem developing in my hands: Dupuytren’s Contracture. And while it doesn’t explain the pain it is a roadmap of sorts and a good reason to do the little mind-numbing finger stretches that might slow its progression.
We need our hair cut, our teeth cleaned and maybe our nails done or bodies massaged. We need our coffee dates and yoga classes and drinks at the bar. We’re missing the first pitch, opening day at the lake, the first trillium and lupine, paintbrush and lilies on the mountain trails we call home. Friends. Family. Hugs. Touch.
There is a lot of negative space.
What we have gained may not look like a balanced trade, but we are rested. We are living without things we thought crucial. We are writing others and reaching out. We’re looking for ways to help our neighbors. Our grass is mowed. Our weeds, plucked. We’ve learned the routines of our pets.
We are learning patience and tolerance and appreciation. We are seeing that we can move beyond the usual limits, stretch the usual boundaries. Our inner life is keeping pace with our outer one. And on this one amazing day, we can celebrate in a way that has no limits.
It’s the 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day. Last year and years past I’ve made a point to go into the wild. A pilgrimmage of sorts. Walking along the river that constantly flows, the trees that always green up. I take in the stillness and appreciate the sounds of nature.
Today I’ll do that too. Not at a park or in the mountains, but from my front porch. My “sit-spot” awaits my observation. Since I was last there the tree has s few more leaves, the grass is trying to come up through the moss that is choking it. There will be songbirds and the crow perched atop our 250 year old cedar tree in the back, guarding it’s nest. It is a prime location to be sure.
The rain is coming this afternoon and I’ll don my slicker and get out in the neighborhood. I’ll do two walks: one with Yoda (which is not really a walk) and one alone. I’ll stop by the school where they are feeding neighborhood families in need and give them the biggest check I can write to pay down the “debt” of a few of those families. (Did you know there is such a thing ? The numbers are alarming.)
I’m going to make one piece of Earth Day art, frame it and send it randomly to someone who comments here on this post. How are you celebrating ? More importantly, how are you doing in these negative spaces. What fills you up these days ?
Thank you, as always for reading. While I do it mostly for myself, I always love knowing that others are along for the ride. I appreciate you all. It means something to be seen and heard here. I wish I could hug you all. Really.
Happy Earth Day, friends 🌍