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dear diary : the lens has changed

Self Isolation, Day 19

Dear Diary,

As humans, we seem to be in unfamiliar territory. Yes, there have been famines and wars, but those took place in a different era, before everything got so…Big. So Overblown. Globalised. Impregnated with Greed.

As I observe the story of the Covid-19 pandemic unfold, there is societal chaos and uncertainty. There is also commonality. It seems at a certain moment, everyone will lose a loved one. Most will feel less secure. Many will lose jobs and motivation. Some will even decide not to go on living. Let’s face it, the headlines are pretty bleak.

Despite all this, I’m grateful. I feel lucky to have spent a lifetime in partnership with uncertainty; to have a practice that has taught me to adapt my lens to see a bigger picture.

Yoga has taught me that everything is empty from its own side and appears according to how the viewer sees it. (vastu-sāmye citta-bhedāt tayor vibhaktaḥ panthāḥ IV.15) There is no fixed reality, but rather, we each see things according to our own projections.

What I hear from the news and read in the paper is different than what I experience. There are less planes flying overhead, less cars (and rubbish) on the road.The wildlife around me is flourishing; nature’s creatures are getting on with the business of creating spring.

Of course, there are moments when I worry, but these worries have taken on the theme of basic survival instead of mundane insecurities. Will there be enough food? How will I have enough money to pay for basic expenses without an income? What kind of world will my son grow up in if people stop touching each other? Will I be by his side, or will I perish like so many other vulnerable people?

These worries help to reframe meaning in my life.

After a few days of feeling like I was free-falling, this feeling reminded me of a basic Rolfing principle. In order to have relationship we have to have a tether. The question is, what will each of us tether onto? If it is the news and media, which keeps shifting and changing, it is like a free-fall in tandem; we will continue to spin around this fulcrum but be no more grounded. If, however, we tether ourselves to something real (our true nature, or nature itself) we have more of a chance of finding a still point.

With stillness, we re-affix perspective.

Then I remember that in 2019 alone, over two dozen species went extinct. Twenty-four creatures died off the face of the planet! Yet even so, most humans didn’t bat an eye. Who are we to think that we are so mighty that we are the only species that is important to the planet’s survival? The earth will survive long after we do, and with it, some of the more resourced earthlings will prevail. Trees die off in the billions, not just because of parasites and disease, but because of human invasion. So why is it such big news that we, too, might perish; that a tiny cell might crumble an entire global civilisation?

Some of my favourite books and movies cover this ground; these questions are not new. Here is where I have hope. What other species don’t have that humans do have is creative intelligence. We have the potential to take several ideas and put them together, to arrive at an evolved understanding, at something new. If we could collectively understand that subjugating, dominating and exploiting other species for personal gain will destroy the planet, and humans with it, then we might have a chance at turning the whole story around. Of course, this will take a mass change in behaviour, starting with what we consume.

I have hope. Pandemics like Covid-19 expose the issues of how far we have moved from our natural relationship with the ecosystem. My personal belief is that if we are to exist at all, we will need to rebalance ourselves within the web of nature, including what we consume, and how we consider and care for ourselves in within this framework.

If nothing more, may this special time give rise to shedding conditioned behaviours and trends that take away from our wildness and our wilderness. Once the botox wears off, the last of the fake eye lashes fall and president Trump returns to his natural colour, we might all truly be able to meet each other, and all beings, as we are, as one tribe.

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