I saw a hummingbird the other day. For some reason they’ve always made me smile and feel special. As if that particular one chose my home, my backyard, to grace with its presence. They’re so beautiful and full of energy. Constantly on the go, flitting from one place to the next.
That used to be me. Busy with work, catching up, paying bills, socializing. . .There’s always a million things to do and never enough time to do them. Like the amazing hummingbird I was working hard to juggle all those balls and keep them in the air.
For many, life has become more simple. Forced to stay home, we are learning new ways to share special moments with loved ones, even while many work on their computers.
There’s no diminishing how frightening and untenable the world has become. Worrying how we’ll survive and keep ourselves and our families safe and healthy. Each day a struggle with no respite in sight.
There is no minimizing the disaster we are living through. For a few, inhumanity and destruction will rule, but for the majority it’ll bring out the opposite; a desperate desire to connect with each other and reinforce our common goals- a better life. Sometimes if we take a step back and try to see the good that can exist within the devastation, it helps. We can hopefully learn from its horrifying consequences and bring about a better future.
Look at the world without our footprints to impact it.
Cancelled flights, cruises, and automobiles sitting in the garage have slashed greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution around the world. If there is something positive to take from this terrible crisis, it could be that it’s offered a taste of the air we might breathe in a low-carbon future.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that about 3 million people die each year from ailments caused by air pollution, and that more than 80% of people living in urban areas are exposed to air quality levels that exceed safe limits. The situation is worse in low-income countries, where 98% of cities fail to meet WHO air quality standards.
Measurements from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-5P satellite show that during late January and early February 2020, levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) over cities and industrial areas in Asia and Europe were lower than in the same period in 2019, by as much as 40%!
The ensuing lock-downs have shown the improvements to air quality that are possible when emissions are reduced on a global scale.
The skies over Beijing are clearer, a feat not seen since they spent billions to clean it up for the Olympics.
The majestic mountains are no longer covered in a haze. Rivers and oceans are getting closer to their natural radiant colors and contain less refuse.
The magnificent colors of the sky are emerging once again, more glorious then ever.
Stars are being seen in the clearer night sky.
And the sounds of an industrialized world have receded, allowing nature to sing once more.
When my daughter was little she used to force a balance on my life. Constant excuses like that I needed to work, clean the house, or do chores. . .were not relevant to her life. She just saw a hummingbird she couldn’t catch flitting from place to place. But when she caught me, put her little hands on each cheek, stared into my eyes and said, “Mommy, stop,” everything I thought was important faded away, and the true calling for my time emerged- her. She demanded I slow down, smell the flowers, chase the butterflies, watch the clouds and see the amazing pictures my mind could imagine.
Now, without that influence it’s easy to forget to slow the pace occasionally.
Until now. Now we’ve all been forced to stop the majority of our outside activities, and stop. Like it or not. Even if we’re still working we have no where else to go, nothing else to do.
I remember watching movies that repeatedly honed in on this issue. How so much of the world flows at a completely different pace. How we’ve grown so accustomed to the frenzy we don’t even realize we live in the eye of the storm, reality and all its claims swirling around us.
Sometimes it takes more energy, courage and strength to stand still than to fly away.
Standing still we are forced to see and feel everything. Barely touching any surface for long it’s easy to get lost in distractions.
As we begin to open up our cities so that more activities become available I hope we learn to keep a better balance.
While this time is scary and overwhelming many took the opportunity to channel that fear into ways to connect as never before.
Showing simple acts of kindness to our neighbors, writing “thank you” on streets and entryways for delivery people, supporting Mom and Pop businesses, clapping and screaming at 7 PM every night to honor healthcare workers on the front-lines. Wearing masks to protect others in a determination to get us all through this pandemic.
Children were given free reign to build forts, perform in family written plays, seek out incredible finds during backyard scavenger hunts, or make voluminous arts and crafts projects that will bring back memories for decades to come.
Shelters filled with abandoned and abused animals were suddenly empty when homeless pets found loving homes. They created positive memories amidst the horrors, showing love and generosity can overwhelm anxiety and heartache.
For others it was the simple solitude of watching a hummingbird among the flowers on a clear day, the wind gently stroking our faces, a book that took us to new places, binging on feel-good movies, learning to cook, sleeping late, cuddling with our pets, staring at the incredible horizon, breathtaking evening displays, or a loved ones companionship and comfort that got us through.
Regardless of how we spent those times, we all spent them less frenzied. Even with all the craziness and fears we received a precious gift. Learning to relax, enjoy the moment, see the resiliency of humanity and breathe. Ugliness in times of despair and hopelessness is nothing new. The question becomes, will we keep it at bay and be able to merge the old into the new, creating a better balance going forward?