Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.Willem Dafoe
The more simple we are, the more complete we become.Auguste Rodin
sitting alone in our homes, isolating, distancing, and fearing the other, we connect. we fall down deep enough to realize that we are standing on the same ground.
i live in a town with a culture of social distancing even when there is no pandemic. in my seven or eight trips outside within the past 32 days of complete isolation, i have seen companions in the eyes of strangers more times than i have in my past year of living here.
why do we need forced separation to feel together?
why do we need a crisis of losing lives to realize the value of each moment?
why do we need a perceived enemy to realize we are all on the same team?
four days ago, i make my trip to the grocery store. after being forced to play a stressful game of bumper/shopping carts for safety reasons my last trip, i decide to exchange more money for a higher chance of peace at the small organic shop. i’m rewarded.
a man stands at the door with a mask and gloves. he greets the customers who enter the war zone. in our greeting, we both realize what it means to greet someone. he welcomes me in to to one of the hotspots of today’s crisis. humans navigate the small aisles authentically, empathy and fear both doing their role in guiding each action.
i race to bag my items as the next customer’s items fall down the belt. the pace of the grocery bagging in germany hasn’t followed suit in adopting slowness. i’m unable to give my usual extra energy to meet the unrealistic speed the items are being slid at me. i’m able to not care. a gloved hand places the wooden divider down sympathetically, granting me space to breathe. i look behind to the newly formed lines, meeting the eyes of several onlookers. my physicality probably portrayed more drama than i intended. used to the german glare, self-trained to look away instead of offering my smile, i habitually flick my eyes away. i hate myself for this, always, but it feels better than the coldness of heart an unmet exchange offers. but in the second i did look, i sense something different than the usual. daringly flicking my eyes back, i see a smile forming on the face of an older man. i take pleasure in letting my smile fully bloom, encouraging his to do the same. together we receive each other, together we wade into this new territory.
outside, a biking couple takes up the entire sidewalk with their blasting boombox and two dogs, one loose and one sitting on the handle bars. a different set of rules is emerging. i mount my grocery-ordained bike and meet the four eyes of the man and the pup riding with him. within our minuscule community we are consumed by simple joy, just for a moment.
beautiful purple flowers shoot up from the path of grass between the bicycle lane and the sidewalk. i stare at them with the amazement they deserve, my eyes extra sensitive to the different forms life takes. a woman passing by on the sidewalk reaches out with her gaze to affirm my amazement. life is blooming from dark soil of the earth after months of cold hibernation. a model for us.
this is the most pleasant trip i have had outside in a city, perhaps ever. the bliss, the easy camaraderie that i have only felt at festivals bubbles and fizzes all over the relatively deserted and anxious streets. basking in the surreal atmosphere, one last passerby sees the peace in my eyes. i feel his eyes, his being, reach out and drink in the essence i have become over the past hour, thirsty for the same bliss, safety, and community. we say simple hellos, flavored in tones of urgency and acknowledgment. we are here together.
When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.Paulo Coelho
a tiny golden egg lays inside this incredibly painful, challenging, depressing, uncertain, lonely time. through opposition, through reflection, through duality, we are being shown community in isolation. we are being shown life in death. we are being shown creativity in stillness.
i wish that we fully realize what is being shown, allowing ourselves to learn and receive the entire message, the full spectrum, of this time. ultimately we don’t need isolation to feel community, and we don’t need a higher awareness of death to appreciate life if we make conscious choices of where to place our attention.
it’s all happening, it’s all existing, all the time.