Introduction — Nature is my medicine
Throughout my life, in periods of darkness or profound sorrow, I’ve leaned into the natural world for help. Love and light always follow, even if not in the manner expected. Whether looking out my back window or actively hiking in a national park –trees, plants, animals and sunlight are my friends, bringing optimism and support that encourages the energy to make tiny steps forward into existence.
Across the globe life is always in a continuous cycle of movement, ever progressing and changing. Even during this current crisis that seems to cast a dark shadow over the world as we know it, my neighborhood in Seattle is beginning to wake up. There is always green everywhere on Capitol Hill, but in particular the spring season casts an almost spiritual glow of light on everything as buds form on trees and plants, preparing for a huge splash as if to say, “humans, we’ve got this!”
This last week was a struggle as I adjusted to the new normal of physical isolation, so turning to nature felt comforting. A few sunny afternoons encouraged me to leave the house for approved walks around my neighborhood, always cognizant of a six foot bubble around me. While I kept my distance from humans, plants beckoned me closer.
As if the neighborhood flowers were inspiring me to keep my head up, I’ve curated a collection of shots that use the local burst of color while I tell my version of the corona virus story. I hope you’ll enjoy these photos — produced in my immediate neighborhood — perfectly timed to offer nature’s form of empathy.
Pacific Northwest flowers tell my story
Until recently, our world was loud — every angle in life poking us for attention though media, human interaction and the constant weight of “busy-ness”. Whether at home or on the opposite side of the planet exploring new temples or eating exotic foods, life was rich with distractions and opportunity — seemingly abundant verbs like go, do, make, see.
All of a sudden we’ve been asked to think of the collective over the individual and forego a lot of the go, do, make and see. The corona virus is impacting every part of life in every part of the world. For me, used to freedom, individuality and wide-spread opportunity, wings feel clipped. Space seems cramped. Inspiration seems waning.
I was planning a month-long trip to Brazil with a close friend. Today was slated to be our first chance to cruise Copacabana Beach in Rio and venture out into the loud, flavorful culture. From Sugar Loaf to Christ the Redeemer, Brazil was going to open us up in exciting yet spiritually meaningful ways. This photo is what Brazil meant to me — vibrant color and energy, spiritual “popping up” and organized chaos.
Distance and communication
Brazil will have to wait for awhile, or maybe forever. I’m slowly coming to realize that travel in the future might look and feel differently. In many ways I was already moving in this direction, noticing overcrowded ports-of-call from massive cruise ships, and busy airports with endless rows of parked airplanes. And just as I was getting used to the notion of packing into crowded spaces everywhere in the world as a reality of modern day travel, humanity abruptly changed course and now we’re encouraged to keep at least six feet of distance between us all.
Part of me enjoys my space, but not at the expense of connection. My normal response if I’m out walking around my neighborhood would be to warmly smile and greet people I encounter, maybe even pet their dog. Now, like the daffodils in this shot, I keep the CDC-recommended distance, often awkwardly.
Now the options for connection while holed away at home are managed in three distinct groupings:
- Virtual happy hours and FaceTime calls with loved ones.
- Old fashioned phone calls — which actually provide a more seamless experience.
- The written word — email, text or snail mail.
The three green leaves of this fancy version of trillium represent the ways we communicate today and the dark purple flower bursting in the middle shows us that this human interaction is dark passionate red. We must keep going with loving communication, even more of it than usual, in order to ensure continued meaningful connection.
The shock begins to sink in
There is sickness and death all around us — on the news, social media feeds, word of mouth and maybe even in person. A different kind of ill health also exists in an economy that offers a shaky, at best, structure to hold the world together. The white camellia flower exudes purity of soul in this time of death, uncertainly and isolation — representing this unprecedented time in modern history.
These are very tender times for emotions and our souls are often heavy with feelings of isolation, uncertainty, depression, anxiety and fear of the unknown. Sometimes the weight of those emotions causes tears to well up, even if we can’t pinpoint an exact reason why. The water on the dainty petals of this salmonberry blossom best depicts a soul that feels delicate, but also weighed down with tears not yet ready to drop from the face.
And just like that, we push forward, continuing to move on and use the green of the plant to produce the flower. We sleep, eat, work, tend to family and do the best we can to keep life moving. Like this red flowing current, we continue to drive the energy in a forward direction.
Rebirth and forward movement
This star magnolia inspires the importance of reaching out. Reaching out for help or to help — for love or to love. Letting the tight core relax and soak in the power that comes with the sunlight — and the power that comes in asking for help.
New seeds are planted. Like the tiny pine cones on this cedar branch, we might feel separate but we’re all part of the same mother tree and beginning a new path of development in a world that is quickly changing.
Innovation will begin to bud everywhere in the world and, more importantly, directly around us. New ways of living, eating, praying, sleeping, writing, communicating, working and loving will emerge. Like the hundreds of fuzzy needles on this budding soulless willow, humanity will begin anew and create in ways we cannot even fathom today.
The world opens back up
Then the world opens back up — slightly different or maybe very different or maybe unrecognizable from today. It opens in a way that expands heart and joy and peace and spirit, much like this black tulip magnolia.
When this experience is over, whatever over means, we will once again come together as an even brighter cluster of inter-connected japanese cherry blossoms — optimistic, energetic, creative and full of spirit.