Friday, April 17, 2020

COVIDiary: Seein' Stars

"It's like God and Mother Nature put the whole world in time-out." A brilliant observation by my daughter about our current universal (mostly) quarantine. The virus is scary. The death toll staggering. The pain - physical, emotional, financial - is brutal.

Is there an upside to this, beyond demonstrating areas of huge dysfunction in the US healthcare system and pointing out the desperate need for compassionate, intelligent leadership that defers to experts in essential fields rather than TV doctors and folks who make bad pillows?

Well, it seems when humans stay put, the earth has a chance to heal itself a little. Nature starts reclaiming what's rightfully hers. Animals roam, wondering where all the crazy things on two legs went. Water and air pollution diminish. We'll have to wait to see the results of this time-out, as climatologists and other experts in the study of Mother Earth gather statistics, but I reckon we'll see some amazing changes.

For me, though, the most telling example of nature doing its best to clean itself up without human interference is that for the first time I'm seeing stars at night. Lots and lots of stars. I live in Midtown/Buckhead Atlanta, one of the city's busiest areas, especially where night-life is concerned. On clear nights I can always see the moon and some of the brighter stars, depending on the time of year. But now, wow! I see the moon, the bright stars, but - whoa! - I see millions and millions of tiny, wonderful stars in the night sky over the ATL. It's glorious!

I cherish my quarantine-routine of sitting on my little balcony in the evenings as the sun goes down. Sometimes I read. When it gets too dark, I may listen to an audiobook. Or maybe I don't do anything but look at the birds finding their resting places for the night or watch how the wind moves the trees and plants.

And now, I wait for the dark to see the stars. Yep. Stars. Right in the big city.

What are we learning in this big scary time-out? How can we move back out, hug family and friends, keep weird things floating among folks from making us sick, AND continue to let Mother Nature heal? Lots of lessons to learn. Are we smart enough, selfless enough to learn them?

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