Saturday morning. I think. The days no longer marked off on a calendar of events, appointments, coffee dates and meetings. Their normal ebb and flow blurred in the wash of life lived sheltering-in-place.
I know they say it’s best to keep to a schedule. To set your alarm. To rise and go to bed at the normal times.
Normal feels so strange in these days of isolation. Normal feels abnormal, unnatural.
Saturday morning. I sit at my desk at the large picture window that overlooks the winter parched strip of grass that separates our yard from the wild space along the banks of the river. The space where trees and bushes and tall grasses wait, bare-limbed, for spring’s warming kisses.
Beyond the trees the river flows its normal flow. Effortlessly. Easily. Its surface unmarred by ice jammed up against the bridge abutments.
There is nothing normal about this time. Yet, in the ordinary moments the extraordinary appears. A slab of ice floating down the river, a fleeting reminder of winter’s presence drifting off to a faraway sea. Between here and there it will thaw and melt, break up to join the river water running wild.
More ordinary appearing as extraordinary. A squirrel leaps from tree limb to tree limb with the grace of an acrobat flying from trapeze to trapeze without a safety net below, only the invisible nature of gravity.
It is in the moments of letting go and reaching out to hold on that the extraordinary waits. It is in the moments where we hang suspended in the ineffable grace between each moment, supported only by gravity, that all things are possible. Even flight.
Two geese skim the river’s surface in preparation for flight, their giant outstretched wings never touching the water. Their bodies lift off. Their wings extend even further and they are flying. Up. Up and away. Held up by gravity and air. In harmony. Wing to wing connection.
I want to know the feeling of flight. To feel my wings stretching as wide as wide can be. To feel my body outstretched, reaching for the sky.
I want to fly free.
Free of this grounded reality where staying at home is the safety net I fall into day after day after day.
I want to unhook the newsfeeds carrying stories of death and rid my home of talking heads and pundits gathered together yet apart, sharing their predictions of a future they cannot see but do not hesitate to prophesize.
I want to be like the river otter that sometimes pops his head up out of the river where he lives on the banks at the edge of a calm deep pool. It lies just around the bend where the dogs run on a gravel beach and children play in summer at the water’s edge. Floating carefree like the otter, I would look up at the sun and sky and bear witness to its extraordinary beauty in every ordinary moment.
And here I sit. Grounded. In place. Safe.
Carefree. Careless. Couldn’t care less… about the news. The statistics.
But it’s not true. The not caring part.
I do care.
Deeply. About the people. The lives lost. The lives falling ill. The lives of those fighting to live and those fighting to save lives. About those who go out every day to create the possibility of my staying at home, sheltering-in-place in safety.
And so, I do not turn off the news. I do not shut out the talking heads and block my ears to pundits’ prophecies of what is to come. I cannot live in the moment isolated from reality. I cannot contribute to creating a better future separated from the here and now.
Instead, I teach myself to consume it all in palatable bites. Bites that do not feel too big to chew or swallow. Bites that keep me aware of, but not consumed by, the deaths of my fellow members of our human race, real people whose lives have been ended by a tiny invisible-to-the-naked-eye microbe about whom books shall be written, movies made, stories told for generations to come.
I am teaching myself to be present in it all, like the otter in the pond, like the geese taking off, like the squirrel flying from tree limb to tree limb. Suspended. Held up. Letting go. Holding on. Trusting. In gravity. Grace. Time and space.
I release my need for surety and hold onto only that which sustains me in this moment. The beauty. The wonder. The awe. The extraordinary grace of being alive. It is not a lot but it is everything I need in this moment to feel peace, calm, grace flowing in and all around me.
It is not a lot but it is all I can do to remain present to the ordinary magic of this extraordinary time in which the whole world is waiting, sheltering-in-place, for a new day to begin.