Much will be written and discussed about how the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fragilities in our global economy, revealed new ways of organizing ourselves, and offered us myriad other lessons. At this moment, though, we're grappling with its immediate effects on us and the sudden strange and uncertain nature of our everyday. So I want to offer two simple measures to help us through. Yes, let's take health precautions and most definitely yes, let's connect and be generous with one another (after all, we don't want to merely get through this, we want to get through with our humanity well intact). Beyond that, though, here's what's keeping me grounded and hopeful; what's acting as both a balm and a way to be deliberate about the future:
1. TIME IN NATURE - It's being recommended by everyone from the government to health bloggers: break up the self-isolation with some time outdoors. Sure, fresh air, sunshine and exercise are the prefect antidotes to our indoor- and online-heavy predicament, but what I find most therapeutic is witnessing nature's processes play out unfazed by COVID-19. While the human world scrambles to keep our systems afloat, the rest of the natural world carries on uninterrupted - spring melts the snow into flowing rivulets, birds return, bears wake up, and branch tips bulge in anticipation of another growing season. There's medicine in this. The world of our phones and the stock market is tenuous, yet it's a world of our design. I'd say it's ripe for a redesign. But the world that is our true lifeline, that we share with all the other life on the planet, that is the source of literally everything we need to survive - that world continues to turn. If all else fails, that's our rock. Good to remember where our true allegiance belongs.
2. GROW FOOD - It may seem pollyannaish (and ultra-predictable coming from me), but getting some food growing is in fact a potent act. I hardly need to mention the concern over grocery availability as this pandemic wears on. We're at the mercy of inputs, labour, transportation chains, and politics beyond our control when it comes to our basic sustenance. At the same time, many of us are feeling the strain of lost income. Let's put some of the power to feed ourselves into our own hands, create affordable produce all summer and, in so doing, shape a food system that serves us better into the future. For me, getting some seeds started indoors right now has been a quick way to be heartened by young shoots and their promise of food we can count on. Maybe you just don't want or aren't able to grow your own food - it's just as impactful to form relationships with producers in your area who have the skills and knowledge to keep you fed - invest in them. It makes sense to do both. This isn't trivial stuff - food is a basic need and participating in the fulfillment of that need is a rational, hopeful and empowering way to act. If we want to feel in control of something, this beats hoards of toilet paper!
The months ahead seem destined to stretch our ability as people to adapt. Much of what we've known may be up for a redesign. Let's keep our eye on the world we want and be participants in that redesign starting with the way we respond to the mundane in these early days.