The old saying, “Don’t sweat the little things” doesn’t work during pandemics. For decades the majority of the industrialized world has ignored or controlled the small stuff to build the big stuff we’re convinced we rely on. In many cases we do. Now, in the face of a global health crisis, our sanity — and our futures — may reside in spending a lot more time looking at, and being with, the little things. More time than worrying over the number of toilet paper squares we need to get through the day.
It’s spring and life is bursting open again. Despite our human calamity the natural world (if protected from our follies) keeps humming along. Lately, life for me revolves around one particular area of “little things” — pollinators and the plants that keep them and other insects going. This partnership feeds those up the food chain and ultimately benefits all of us. I’m blessed to live in a quiet, wilder place where studying and living with wildlife is more immediate. But if you are open to it, connecting with nature can happen anywhere.
I read many comments on social media, people angry or in despair, blocked from life as usual including their social connections. It’s no longer the secret of a few: spending time in nature reduces stress and bolsters the process of staying mentally alert and healthy. Nature also heals. One of the best outcomes of the current shutdown is the chance — the blessing in the wound — to live in a slower, quieter world, especially for those in our usually hyper-active cities. Now is the time to move away from time spent railing, “I can’t” to more energy underneath “I’m still able to.” Beginning with the little things.
We know the drill: stay 6′ apart, cover your sneezes and coughs, wash hands often and thoroughly, disinfect, stay home except for getting food, medicine, or going to a hospital if you are very sick.
While living within the drill, let’s add a little recess. More being and less doing.
♥ When you walk, walk slower, feel each step on the ground. What does stepping in this place, along your chosen paths mean to you? Now and before COVID-19.
♥ When you look up, down, or sideways look deeper, beyond your everyday glances at the familiar. What small and large movements do you see? What makes you curious about the source of what’s in motion?
♥ When you turn an ear toward a sound, listen more roundly — what do you hear beyond the obvious? Is there less background noise in your way? How does that feel? What do you like most about a quieter world? What do you miss?
♥ Keep a diary, even quick notes of what you’re feeling and experiencing. They will anchor you later when making the simple and difficult choices ahead. They will be part of your personal and family history. Future generations may learn from you.
♥ Make a plan. How can you hold onto and grow your new calm, the insights you’ve discovered? You’ll be better prepared, once the pandemic has passed, to resist the temptations from society, friends, and family to accept going back to the “before” as though nothing has changed.
Think about what the children in your life are seeing and learning from you now. It will, soon enough, be their world. They will look back on us to how we saw and responded to the world around us during this time. We carry and help define their future vision and behaviors.
For me to make a difference I need to understand what lives around me. The natural world is the foundation on which we build our human house: our safe food, air, and water supplies, numerous medicines, the plants, animals, and landscapes that make our hearts beat and our breaths calm. Now, with all this free time, get to know the smaller, deeper world around and within you.
Thank you for reading. Be smart, be safe, be well. Give back.
P.S. I post daily images on my Facebook page (Katy Pye-Author) of my walks around my garden or through nature, observing and celebrating the little things. If you want to learn more about pollinators in your garden, I Spy! Who’s Using My Garden? A Pollinator Garden Workbook can guide you to discover and track what’s there or learn how to provide for them. The Resources section from the book is here, a free recipe (thank you pollinators!) is here. The workbook is available via the above website link.