I’m writing these for my friends. If you don’t know me, and you enjoy them, then maybe we will meet in the world!
Walking has always been a solitary activity for me. I’ve learned that I really don’t like too much talking when I’m walking with a companion. This is partly because walking is my recharge time, the time when problems sort themselves out without a lot of conscious effort. This is different from sitting meditation, which I find requires enormous focus to keep circling back to the breath.
It’s mid March here in western New York, which means crazy weather shifts and unexpected storms. We seem to be missing the storms, especially the dreaded ice storms, which tend to bring the world to a screeching halt. This is good because we are weathering a storm that has brought the world to a gradual halt, one that will be with us for the foreseeable future. Even when the virus fades, things will be changed in fundamental ways we cannot foresee.
But nature doesn’t play this game. It gets warm (seventy yesterday) and the green veneer starts appearing, seemingly everywhere. Even when the temps plunge (in the twenties right now), this unfolding continues. I’d argue that it began in January as the trees got a little more complex each day. You can see everything get a little more feathery as tiny buds begin growing.
But now we are on the cusp of the explosion and it looks to be about a month early. The irony of walking during a pandemic while surrounded by growth is not lost on me. As we make wide circles around each other we are walking on new grass and under green buds. Life and potential death are hand in hand, as they always have been. But a lot of us really didn’t believe that. I think it is sinking in.
I’ve been trying to formulate a theory about the effect of society-wide voluntary isolation over time. With a population who seldom spends time undistracted. I can’t help but think that this could cause a profound change. When anyone goes into retreat, they come out changed. They may not see it at first, but like regular meditation or silent walking, they start to see the world a little differently.
Now we are all in retreat. My suggestion is to get outdoors everyday and walk, stay your distance but smile at others, and start watching the green world unfold. You’ll see changes every day, in the natural world and in the one we’ve constructed so carefully, only to see it change overnight.