What will we take With us?

What will we take With us?

By Susan Shannon

Orcas Island

Collectively, we are all trodding towards a destination which we really can’t define-life will not be the same, possibly ever, in our lifetimes. The ripples of changes will be felt maybe forever. Some will help create a new normal. Some will change into something else. We’ll all be asked to be on the front lines in some way if we haven’t already.

Last night I was reflecting on “What will we go back to? What will we take with us?”

One thing I’ve noticed is how loud the birds have become. I wait excitedly for the hour before sunset when the skies and trees erupt with this “Bird Raga for Dusk” or Bird Jazz. So many voices, all finding their place in the choral celebration of another day. It goes on and on in such a joyful thanks-until the last bird. The quiet air provides a welcome motif for their songs to be sung. There are no Growler Jets, very little man-made noise for the most part. I’ve noticed that the birds solo in succession and with respect to others. Very little interrupting! Room for everyone to give their tributes.

Then, the frogs. I slept outside last night and could hear an overlap of all the different ponds in this area, singing with frogs. Sometimes an entire pond would quiet, and it was as if a stereo speaker suddenly quit. Then another would come in, and another, a cacophony woven together like a beautiful plaid fabric, frogs doing their algebra, as one of my friends said. Right before the moon rose, they all quieted. Like church.

And in other realities, bodies are being zipped and stacked whose lives may never be reviewed. Health care workers who may never get to stop and process these times. How to hold the Both/And of these times? It seems most important to do that. Not to negate the tragedy, but to also see that in some ways, we are glimpsing fractals of beauty and connection which had become nearly lost to us in our busy-ness.

I’ve heard from people things like “I have my family back again ­— I thought these days were long gone” and “Have you noticed how much closer in the birds are now that there isn’t so much air noise?” One of my very elder friends said “I am so sad to see what is going on, AND have you noticed the whiteness of the clouds and the blue of the sky? This is how it was when I was a KID!”

What will we take forward from these glimpses? Intention? Creation? Sustainability? Connection with all forms of life? What will we leave behind? Distraction? Destruction? Disconnection? It really is up to us.

Dr. Larry Brilliant, epidemiologist, said “Pandemics are like rivers that can create and re-create boundaries of countries but also boundaries around how we live.”

How wonderful, if at least on these islands where we all share and care for beauty, if we can find ways to intentionally keep the birdsong loud, the jets quiet, the traffic sane, and some evenings tranquil. Sending caring thoughts to you all.