Early in the evening is a time that my family calls ‘happy hour’ because it’s anything but, with hectic, tired, hungry kids and adults, all trying to bathe, and do homework, and get food together before bedtime. You know the drill, usually quite tense. I rang my daughter at ‘happy hour’ the other night. I apologised for ringing at that crazy time. She said, ‘It’s ok, everyone is chilled because they’ve done their work and had time to play.’
And I thought that was interesting, because a lot of people, all of a sudden, are not hectic and agitated. (Except when they have to go to the supermarket, of course.) A lot of people have unexpected spare time and some rather unusual solitude.
As an artist, (poetry is just another art form for me), I am a friend of solitude. But I have been happy in solitude since I was a little kid, growing up miles from any other families. Not that I don’t love being with people. I love them. I love interactions, good conversation, and laughter, and just the general caring that happens. But I’m also quite happy on my own.
Of course I was as caught in the rat race as the next person, always feeling that I should be doing something, preferably something that brings money in. So I wasn’t much good at watching ants, for example, or the movement of clouds. I only gave myself time to dream because it was necessary for the incubation of poetry!
I think our busyness was a great loss. We were addicted to it. It’s like we were on an extended coffee high. Speed freaks. We haven’t given ourselves alone time to evaluate what we actually, in fact, want. We have taken our desires from some great big advertising publication that says: One must be part of all this. Must have this, must have that.
And I can’t help feeling that, as people settle into this new situation of physically distancing themselves from others and realise it isn’t the end of the world, (assuming they have enough toilet paper), there could be major changes for the better.
I wonder how many people will change their lifestyles as a result of having time to think. I’m sure there’ll be quite a few who chose a healthier way to live, even if it means a bit less money or trinkets.
It has got to be good for the earth. Remember her? The earth. We humans are a species whose population is on an exponential growth curve. The earth with all her bounty, is a finite resource.
When I have my new-age hat on, I think that this pandemic is just a small warning call to us from The Earth. (She gets capital letters when I have my new-age hat on.) I also think there could be much worse to come, like global starvation if the climate gets too bad for our food production systems or our population gets too large. And that, through means like these, The Earth could shake us off like droplets on a dog. And that she might just do it! That’s when I have my new-age hat on.
But it is just possible that we are in a new-age.
How will we chose to live? What changes will we make?