How ironic – #EarthDay50 comes in 2020, the year of perfect vision, as the entire world clamors for a vision forward.

I’ve been reflecting on my sheltered life and how shocking this new reality of sheltering in place is. For so long, people have behaved as though we are distinct from nature and can live separately from the earth, which is the solid ground beneath us. Earth Day 2020 and COVID-19 are quite the pair.

As I do my part to flatten the curve, I can’t deny that I am bewildered. My life upended by a bug.

Bewildered; to be wilder…

My goal for so long has been to connect with the earth’s wildness – but this bewilderment is not what I had in mind. In my bewilderment, I wish now only to belong and feel connected to those people who mean the most to me.

I live in the city – in the heart of Seattle’s urban core. I walk to feel a sense of forward motion. I liked to move fast before all this happened, even though moving fast put the world around me in a blur. Now I have no choice but to move at a walker’s pace and appreciate the strangers around me. The world seems much bigger and quieter. No trains, no planes, no cars. Fewer people. I can hear the birds return to spring and daffodils pop a riot of yellow. Before COVID-19, my fast-paced world conspired to prevent me and them from having time like this together.

I wind my six-foot bubble past bewildered fellow downtown citizens, amazed at the thing of it. I listen to the people around me for clues – who is optimistic? Who encourages? Who is open to the new path? I must slow down to speed up.

Thank you bug?

‘Put your mask on before helping others’ is what they say on airplanes. I see so many masks these days. Masks on moms. Masks on people experiencing homelessness. Masks on dogs! Everybody is masking up, protecting each other. The pandemic unites us exponentially.

“New-normal” sounds too … normal. I am ready for a “new-new”. This is where coronavirus and Earth Day 2020 intersect. Let’s leave some old ways behind and drop the behaviors that were harming our solid ground and not waste this crisis one little bit.

Happy Earth Day. Stay safe. Let’s change some things for the better.

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