The other day, I went out in the backyard with a glass of wine and spent several minutes listening to birds high up in the trees. They are singing the folk songs they have exchanged for thousands and thousands of years. It’s their mating season, and while all around us seems so stressful, they are living lives more or less unchanged.
As last week went on, I began seeing and hearing less and less people, and seeing and hearing more and more birds. Now that I’m working for home, they’re about the only entities I hear in real life and real time. Our feathered friends have always been here, but now I’m just back to appreciating them. My relationship with them is uncomplicated; they want and need nothing from me, and don’t pay much attention amidst their courtship rituals as I gaze up in silent admiration.
There is change, and there are constants. The birds still sing and flirt and carry on their life cycles. They flit from branch to branch, not worrying about the latest news or how many likes any given post has or how the stock market is doing. They live their lives in the moment.
In these complicated times, may you have opportunities to find peace and the simple, small moments to remind you of the joys of life.
These are the times that try (hu)man’s souls, but I’ve also seen some really awesome people reminding us of the good of humanity.
I’ve seen so many people on campus and even alumni reaching out to see if they can help as faculty members hustle to make remote learning plans, while many colleagues come up with new ways to serve students. Focus on people hoarding toilet paper if you want, but I’ll prefer to ponder people sharing their skills for the betterment of others every day.
Within hours of the announcement that Arius’ school would be closed, two of his favorite adults had reached out to his mom to say that they could help watch him if needed. His school district (and many others) also put a high priority on making sure that the youngsters for whom food was a vital part of their educational experience would be taken care of, essentially offering every family in the community free breakfast and lunch.
But I feel for all those hurting. Students who don’t know when they’ll see their friends again. College seniors wondering if they’ll have graduations. People who can’t go to work because they need to care for kids. Businesses that have to shutter or radically alter their delivery methods, and hope they will be open again sooner than later — and all those they employ.
The Children’s Museum of Oswego, one of Arius’ favorite places, is understandably inaccessible for now. My inauspicious weekly open mics are on hold (I could do them online, but would anybody watch?), but I’m more bummed I won’t see the awesome folks I get to spend the evenings with. Sterling Cidery and the whole lovely community of friends I’ve made will sit empty in its edifice and in our lives.
Ultimately, this too shall come to pass. Time travelers Bill and Ted, while not exactly Socrates, gave us great advice: Be excellent to each other. Be kind. Be supportive. Be patient. When this is over, we’ll remember how people treated each other. And I have indeed seen many being excellent, which is a reason for hope.