Stillness

Now that so many of us are self-isolating, working and teaching from home, we have more time. More time for stillness, reflection, self-care and family interactions.

Time is a funny thing, it is one of our most precious resources. There never seems to be enough of it in our rat race culture. We rush to work, to school, through the store, back home. We don’t even have time to prepare our meals, we need fast food to match our hurried lifestyles. We use a tremendous amount of resources for our fast-paced lives. And we live in a world of finite resources. The idea that economic growth can continue forever on a finite planet is nonsensical in the extreme, a deluded fantasy. But, the fantasy of the American Dream dangles like a carrot and we mindlessly drag our carts towards it. But external, material things do not create sustainable happiness. Cultivating an inner life allows one to choose happiness, to be content regardless of external circumstance.

So, with the coronavirus, we have been forced to change our ways. With self-isolation, we are slowing down. We won’t be rushing around meeting timelines and schedules. We will have time to be more mindful. Maybe read, reflect, exercise, meditate, learn Tai Chi or yoga, play with our kids, enjoy the outdoors. Maybe actually live life instead of letting time be our master. In stillness, we can cultivate a better approach to living. 

I am a lover of the science fiction genre and many dystopian science fiction novels have a pandemic scenario. From this perspective, one can imagine….

 What if Mother Earth is an actual being? What if she has grown weary of our unsustainable wasting of her resources and degradation of her environment? What if she decided to cull the herd, restrict human consumption and thoughtless activities? This pandemic and the short-sightedness of the current administration, even downplaying of the impact, could work to Mother Earth’s advantage. Already the environment is improving, water quality and air quality.

Maybe this is an opportunity. Time to try out new things, new ways of doing things. And when this is all over and the hamster wheel starts up again, maybe we will not be so willing to run in circles for the fantasy of unlimited economic growth and think in terms of personal growth and personal happiness. Maybe we will break our habits of mindless consumerism and find contentment in just being. Not being something or someone or constantly becoming. Just being or being with our loved ones.

Both people and planet earth will benefit from this slowing down. Yes, the economy may never be the same, but it wasn’t going to last forever. I will remind you that money is man-made, we can make it different. Now maybe we can think about an economy that is good for people and living organisms rather than corporations.

Maybe we could learn to live more like a bee, in symbiosis with nature’s beauty rather than like a locust, a parasite consuming everything in its path. We have a choice. Maybe now we could make thoughtful choices.