a roof of stars

star tree blue star tree blue

Image copyright Laura Joy

I'm a writer and a traditional musician living in Sussex with a love for the natural world and for walking in it in particular.  I thought this was as good a time as any to offer some thoughts as we grapple with our new reality.  I wish all my readers well as we navigate this slightly strange horizon.  I look forward to a better day when we can all meet free of restrictions and able to see this old world with new eyes.

By Jim Hindle, May 11 2020 01:28PM

And so the days roll on. Has it been two months now? Even longer? We wait for a change in the days, some uptick of experience where we can all walk bold and bright and put away this tribulated moment.

Is it enough for now to think of the bird on the bough, the flower ringing loud from out the wood? Spring is still a heady brew, the jackdaws make their way from roof to roof, scavenging the gleanings in the tiles and wrens sing out like crests of sun made audible, a buzzard soaring somewhere like a memory of grace.

And can we still believe or even dream that there was once some kind of covenant, a pledge between the world and us, when we were humble husbands and the earth was vast and it never seemed there’d come a day when her resources would ever run scarce?

I walk through the invisible arms of the green in the air and only know that this is our inheritance, as sure as the ground and the sun and wonder whether, if we still took care of all the world would that improve our worldly lot, the sum of our existence in our too-brief lives that are spun down generations past and generations still to be so that we are no less a part of this unbroken chain than the thrush in the dawn of the day.

When the virus has played out, when immunity grows or the vaccines come good or we somehow fudge or stumble or calculate our way into some sense of better reckoning will we remember all this? That we are as dependant on the leaf of each tree as they are upon our every action when we hold such great responsibility? We have a chance, if only just, to change our ways and that is a charge for for each and every one of us in our collective surge – for just as surely as we hunker down in flats or bedsits or other dwellings relatively palatial, humanity is at a crest of knowing how we all can be, alone together as the saying is but reaching out as if and in the knowledge that our very lives depend on it, depend upon it like the air that drifts so sweet down city streets as we enjoy deliverance from engines.

We can point fingers at wet markets, the demand for wild meat in certain far flung corners of the globe, even if it’s useless now to cast the blame. We can draw quite obvious conclusions, anthropomorphise the natural world when anthropocentricism arguably forms much of our original sin. If this was the will of the world we have wounded can making reparations in our will and intent and every action help right the ship? Whatever the cause, however meaningful or arbitrary, there’s certainly poetic truth that this human crisis rides on the back of that of our ecology.

As wiser minds than mine have pointed out ecology and economy share the same root; ‘Oikos’ in Greek. ‘Oikos’ translates as home, ‘Logos’ as knowledge. ‘Nomos’ as management. And so ‘ecology’ gives us ‘the knowledge of home’ where ‘economics’ mean ‘the management of home’. How can you manage a thing you don’t know? We cannot have one without the other. Just as home means a place for the family, ecology implies a knowledge of the families we share this planet with.

Would it help in our hour of need to promise to the world outside our doors that when we all come through from this we’ll make a place again for the green in our lives; honour it, give back to it, make a greater space for it in our hearts and in that of our children?

We all know that so much of what we’re going through is far from easy. Nothing I say here is meant to make light of or ignore the challenges so many people are dealing with. But we all know the situation as it is; it doesn't need further rehearsal here. Suffice to say we still have choices in how respond to all this, with the attitude and stance we choose to meet it.

The very experience of having something so fundamental as human proximity removed can counter-intuitvely hold a strange potential, an enforced denial that will make our eventual freedoms all the sweeter when they are finally restored. We will certainly be less likely to ever take them for granted again. Temporary separation can strengthen our inner reserves. Even as we open up to one another, reach out across seeming divides, our spirits tempered by the distances but still unbowed, we can all walk out of this the stronger, warmer, ready to make the most of every moment, to not turn a blind eye to given opportunities, to see each neighbour as a sign of, an expression of humanity itself.

And we have the chance, made all the starker by any dwelling on mortality, to step up to take care of the living green lungs of our forests, the bloodstream of our rivers and oceans, the land itself, the very earth: our heart. For we’re bound to protect this as surely as we care for one another, as surely as when this current crisis is finished it will feel like stepping out from a cave, into a world all the newer, the brighter, its potential simply ringing in our ears.

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All contents of this site copyrighted to James Hindle 2020