At our pace, it’s easy for us to ignore alarms that blend into the never-ending chatter all around us. It is easy to rush past the people in need who seemingly have nothing to do with our own lives. It takes little effort to write off the earth’s festering wounds as a casualty of progress. Or to look blindly, naively even, past all the red flags in a world filled with so much useless distraction.
As a collective species, I think we’ve known for quite some time that we wouldn’t be able to go on forever as we have been. We’re at the stage where simple calculations can be confidently used to predict the extinction of species that have been on the earth longer than humans. But just the simple fact of knowing that we are pressing up on the brink of something dangerous has never been enough incentive for us to stop in the past. And it wasn’t enough for us this time, either.
It took a direct message from Mother Nature, in the form of a virus-turned-pandemic, to make us stop in our tracks. Because if the earth is telling us one thing right now, it is to stop: to drop all our self-importance, our self-imposed busy-ness, and above all, the notion that we are more important than the other billions of lives inhabiting this planet with us. We have reached breaking point. Mother Nature needs to heal. And we need to heal, too.
I’ve always believed that our planet communicates to us through energy, signs, and symbols. We just have to be quiet enough to hear her messages. So while yes, it does seem like darkness and fear are omnipresent and weighing down upon us in this unsteady time, there’s also a message of optimism woven throughout the clouds - one of hope and, above all, of rebirth.
Evolution, and by extension life, is a series of changes. It pushes forward regardless, transforming that which no longer works into new states of being. This is what we are doing now. We are evolving. But we need to let go of that which does not serve us before we can fully metamorphose into what we are truly meant to be.
While corona has a few definitions in the English language, one of them stands out to me as a relevant symbol. In astronomy, the word corona is defined as: ‘the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars. The sun›s corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse, when it is seen as an irregularly shaped pearly glow surrounding the darkened disk of the moon.’ To me, the metaphor of the sun’s corona being visible during a total solar eclipse is rich with meaning. It is a crown of light that peeks out from around complete darkness. We are all in the dark, but we are all in the dark together. And because of this, we are surrounded by light.
While it’s true that this virus has been shown to affect countries and demographics differently, the mere fact that any one of us, regardless of race, class, gender, etc. could contract it is bizarrely unifying. It is as though collectively, we are being forced by Mother Nature to reconnect with the fundamentals of our basic constitution. She is insisting that we get back to basics; that we care for ourselves and for one another. She is reminding us that we cannot ignore those who seemingly have nothing to do with our own lives any longer, because we all breathe the same air. We are all connected. And more than anything, she is telling us to look for the light amidst the darkness. To find the silver lining in all of this, and to honour it.
Whether we like it or not, this has been a time of pause. So how do we use it? The answer is any way that serves us and those around us. If you feel as though you are able to use the time to be productive or to work on yourself, that’s great. But if all you can do is sit on the couch in sweats, then do that. Be gentle with yourself. We all process things differently. Be gentle with others and lift up your neighbour. That is how we will get through. And after this is all over, may we be better for it.
Lead image by Aasiya Jagadeesh.
From Harper's BAZAAR Arabia May 2020 issue