This afternoon I am sitting at the kitchen table, feet propped up to rest on the seat of the chair across from me. Fresh air fills the room, entering through a window I threw open earlier, and I breathe it in deeply, filling my lungs with its scent. The blinds are closed, but light still streams into the room, brightening the cupboards and the walls in a way that’s hazy and comforting, warm and welcoming. As I watch, and as I really pay attention, lumps of falling snow, melting in the heat of the afternoon fall from the roof, their shapes silhouetted against the creamy background of the curtains.
A crow squawks somewhere outside. Soon I hear a truck roar heedlessly up to the stop sign on the corner and pause for the briefest of moments. Its tires make that familiar sound of something fast moving through sloppy slush – spring in Alberta. I sit still a while longer and keep listening. An entire flock of excited little birds twitter relentlessly, no doubt perched in a bush in the front yard. They’re little voices join together, celebrating the melting snow, consecrating the return of life to a world that’s been grey and white, dark and cold for months.
I’m sitting here watching and listening – really paying attention – because, on a whim, I jumped into a short online loving kindness meditation this morning, and the host read a poem at the conclusion of the meditation called “Honoring Observation” from the book Prayers of Honoring Voice By Pixie Lighthorse. In it, Lighthorse wishes to be “illuminate[d] . . . with the glow of contemplation,” and that line resonated with me immediately.
The internet enables information to flow expeditiously. When Dr. Deena Hinshaw speaks at 3 p.m. each day, reporting that cases of Covid-19 are climbing, that news splashes directly into the centre of our lives in real time. The internet also enables questionable information to move with the same expediency; every other person on Facebook is suddenly an expert on hand washing or has taken it upon themselves to promote social distancing rules not even recommended by health authorities. Hop over to Instagram, and the so-called gurus are working overtime, creating content encouraging people to use isolation to be productive, to get organized, and to bake sourdough bread.
For most of us just trying to survive this ordeal with a little grace, a little humor, and our sanity intact, living amongst all of this fear and all of this noise is unhelpful. It’s become more important than ever to just stop. Stop looking at the news alerts. Stop worrying about if you’re following the advice of Cousin Cecily, or that girl from high school who sells makeup: neither are trained medical professionals the last time I checked. Stop obsessively disinfecting the door knobs. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel of online learning. Stop organizing your utensil drawer. Stop. And just be illuminated by the glow of contemplation. Right outside our windows, the world’s waking up. Don’t miss it.