The COVID-19 pandemic has been termed the “The Great Pause.” It’s given us all some time to pause and observe. To observe our habits and patterns, our way of being the world, in ourselves and of our loved ones and leaders.
Observations concerning me include the rise of conspiracy theorists making headlines and the hyperbole of media coverage and to our government’s response. Hindsight is always 20/20 and will only know in the future what we should have done today. No one will know for sure what mistakes we are making as we fumble through this. It’s a predicament.
One thing inspiring is that it has put brakes on our insatiable thirst for petroleum. We are all dependent on the fossil fuel economy more than anyone would like to admit, besides the 15 OPEC nations. The numbers are clear that a slowdown in economic activity has led to an estimated 5% drop in carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases.
Analysts don’t think this will have any lasting effect on global climate change predictions, since major structural changes in energy supply will have to be developed to make any meaningful long-term change. Despite this, the Pause does give us some time to observe and reflect.
A family member posted this poem to her social media page this week. I thought I would share this poem written in 1869:
And people stayed at home
And read books
And they rested
And did exercises
And made art and played
And learned new ways of being
And stopped and listened
Someone meditated, someone prayed
Someone met their shadow
And people began to think differently
And people healed.
And in the absence of people who
Lived in ignorant ways
Dangerous, meaningless and heartless,
The earth also began to heal
And when the danger ended and
People found themselves
They grieved for the dead
And made new choices
And dreamed of new visions
And created new ways of living
And completely healed the earth
Just as they were healed.
— Kathleen O’Mara
Reprinted during Spanish flu Pandemic, 1919
Despite the outlook of negligible climate change impacts from the decrease in emissions, O’Mara’s poem strikes a prescient tone as the necessity for Pause. Here are some of the upsides of our predicament: crime rates are down across the nation, gardening is up, homemade meals are on the rise, and old friends are reaching out to reconnect.
Subtle but noticeable changes in my daily bring reasons for gratitude. No commute for work, sports, or the like means I only get in my car once in a while and thus have saved hundreds of dollars in gas. I have lost three pounds, hitting my weight loss goal to 10. The irony being I now fit back into work clothes I no longer need because I don’t go to the office. I have created art and made crafts and enjoyed more time with my kids. My husband starting cooking more regularly and my kids are learning to menu plan.
Like everyone, I miss my friends. I am saddened for my kids who also miss their social bonds at school. I’ve had to comfort tears of frustration for my extroverted child whose need for socialization is core to his identity. I’d like to visit my elderly parents. I wish we could have taken our planned trip to Chicago over spring break so my kids could have met an extended family of aunts, uncles, cousins for the first time. These are loved ones they have only known through Christmas and birthday cards.
Like my mom always says about difficult times, “this too, shall pass.” When it does, will the return to normalcy, or some form of it, be rapid, or will it be a gradual incline? Will people abandon some of their old habits, for new ones that ground them in place? Or will it be a rush to reclaim a semblance of life BC (before COVID)? I am just looking forward to the party. Who’s hosting?