Late this morning I was on my balcony feeling a little sorry for myself. There was no real need. I’m healthy, I am safe and I have all my needs met, except for one. I enjoy spending time on my own. I can write when I’m alone. I can paint when I’m alone. I can watch TV or read. At my fingertips I have the entire world on the Internet. But there’s one thing I cannot have: people. I miss people. I missed seeing them on the street and in the shops. But not seeing them is a small price to pay for keeping us healthy. It’s the least I can do.
As I was looking out over my balcony, I was aware that I was alone. There was no one in sight. This is a busy intersection and there are usually a lot of people and cars and noise. But today I could hear clearly the birds chirping away in, what I can only assume is, a song of joy. They are not competing with the fumes generated by cars or the cacophony of voices that accompanies any large group of people. The air is clear and the faint breeze is sweet.
At a distance I can hear a car. But it is not close. There are no planes in the air or trains in the background. A Security car has just stopped outside my bank. I can see him. He’s all alone. He only stays for a moment and then leaves. A solitary car pulls up into the empty parking lot and I can see through its windows that there are two passengers. I watch as she don’s gloves before she enters the empty bank. There’s a bank machine there. Within moments they too were gone. I can see birds flying free and unencumbered. This is a moment of introspection.
People are worried and rightly so. The last pandemic of this magnitude was in 1918. It lasted from January 1918 to December 1920. Infected 500 million people, about one quarter of the world’s population at the time. 102 years ago. Have we learned enough to combat this one? Over 1 million people in the world have been infected so far. Out of 7 billion!
Church bells are ringing in support of those on the front lines. I see videos and hear stories of people coming out onto their balconies or at the end of their driveways and singing. They’re making noise. They are rejoicing in being alive. They are refusing to give up or to give in. We will survive this. Our planet will have time to heal and we will have time to take stock. What really is important in our lives, in our world? Maybe now we’ll learn the truth.
We are not isolating ourselves; we are distancing ourselves. It is a huge difference. And that is what will keep us together. I hope it will bring us closer as individuals and as a species. Be well.