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Letter: Rest and Vision in a Time of Corona

Full-length portrait of happy mother, father, little boy and girl running and playing games in autumn park. Family, parenthood, leisure and people concept. Horizontal shot.
In a mere week, the COVOD-19 pandemic stopped people worldwide and upturned the imbalance in our acquisitive economic growth saga. Within this shock, though, lies opportunity. Now that towns, cities, and states are shuttered, many of us can rest up and think about the magnitude of this phenomenon that demands our collective attention. I find myself wondering if current lifestyles meet the needs of our new now. 

Rest allows a fragmented nervous system enough calm to reflect on personal and collective trajectories. Take a moment to bring a little smile and softening to your heart; then be curious about what you are learning about yourself. We have a precious chance to step out of a highly stressed rat race and to ask ourselves about our experiences. Does your whole system of body, mind, and spirit feel more at ease? Mine does. Which parts of you want attention? The investigation is worth your newfound time. 

Do you see changes in your neighborhood and in the world? Children playing outside and shrieking with joy and parents playing with them—in the daytime. Children are still learning, albeit in different ways, and it’s healthy for them to be outside more. People are out in nature now, walking, running, biking, and talking, with six feet between them. Have you heard the birds singing? Seen new blossoms appear? Four goldfinches just landed on a tree nearby. What else can you see, now that you have taken a moment to really observe what is around you? 

Does it alarm you that we continue on as usual, despite mounting evidence of a climate crisis, which demands a course correction? If you can foresee this, are there healthful adjustments you can fashion in your life that will make a difference? 

In the wake of the dysfunctional old ways lies a field of possibilities. More time, less commuting, greater significance in life. Isolation teaches us to creatively explore ways to work from home, for quality time with children and with our socially distanced neighbors. Imagine discovering that many of our possessions are not worth the time and money spent on acquiring them. Dance becomes, for many, a necessary part of exercise indoors. Art, music and writing can be escapes and important expressions that enliven your entirety. 

These are good reflections now that transition is in the air. People across the world are discovering cleaner air and water with businesses and traffic shut down. Imagine valuing these over polluted air, water, and drastic climate change. In this secluded time we can envision and plan ahead for a slower-paced world where we learn skills and embrace social cohesion. Imagine the bottom line becoming not the only measure of a country’s well being. The small country of Bhutan measures human development success as the Gross National Happiness. Picture in your rested mind’s eye—business as usual as a construct of the past with National Happiness as a new present construction for all. 

Breathe and rest. As you do so, find something or someone you love and rest in that glow. Put your hand on your heart and feel warmth and relaxation spread throughout your body. This activates the heart and relieves stress. Try it. The task these days is to make ourselves available, perhaps by seeking out beauty, or being in nature or with loved ones. Community and relationships count most, and are our safety valve as we move into a possibly more constrained future. 

May this opportunity within a calamity encourage us to dream up our new world! 

Patricia Hinkley, Montpelier