I love the word ‘consider’. It comes from the latin con, meaning ‘with’ and sider -the stars. A good place to start for an overview, I feel.
For those of us who haven’t succumbed to the virus itself, it has had two major consequences. The first is that most of us are enclosed in our own homes and can only go out of our front door for essential reasons, such as shopping for food. The second is that when we venture outside our front door we must observe social distancing: two metres apart from any other human being. No personal contact with anyone other than those with whom we share our living space. If we live alone, we have physical contact with no other human being.
These are profound changes. The habits of the human race have had to take a handbrake turn in a matter of weeks. Our routines have been torn to shreds. The routine of getting up, getting ready for the day, going out to work. The routines of socialising: going out with others for something to eat or watching a performance together. All are gone. It is astounding that we have been able to even attempt this change in behaviour on such a scale.
I suspect that this, in part, is where the panic came from. For a start, there is the financial uncertainty: will I have a job to go to when this is all over? And in the meantime, how will I manage? The lives in us that are conditioned to such regularity must be shrieking: where is my certainty? What will I do?
The isolation in one’s own home has been, for the writer, quite strange. I would have thought that, with so few distractions, I would get on with all those projects I had been meaning to do. Instead, I have slept a lot. I have hardly read a book — and I tend to read a lot of books. It is as if the physical lockdown has corresponded with a mental one too. I have been forced indoors both physically and psychically.
And in the quiet of no aeroplanes, less traffic, less distraction, the being forced inwards, it is starting to dawn that something else can make itself known. I have been thinking about mealtimes, and putting more attention into preparing them. The garden is getting a lot of attention too. It is spring in the UK, and the birdsong is loud at this time of year. But this year it is dramatic.
In late March, just into the lockdown, I noticed the planet Venus each evening in the sky above our garden. It was very bright in the sky to the west. I followed it as it lined up with the new moon until it was in front of the Pleiades a couple of weeks later (which can be seen with good binoculars). A breathtaking sight. The Pleiades are on the edge of the constellation of Taurus. From the position of Venus I could work out that the Sun, which had just set over the horizon, was in Pisces. The full moon on the 7th of April was on the other side of the sky, so it was in the constellation of Virgo. But for me the amazing thing is, I could feel it. The world is quiet enough for me to feel this immense realm we are moving within.
It makes me wonder why astrologers (who would tell you that the Sun was in Aries and the moon was in Libra) stopped looking at the sky and relied on charts and tables. They only have to look upwards to see that their charts and tables do not match what is overhead, there to see. Are we now in the time for a new astrology? Can we look at the sky anew?
It is as if I have been forced to abandon the routines I have been trained into — worrying about money, or work, or any of the other things that used to fill my life — and in the quiet, other rhythms can make themselves known. Whereas the rhythms I was conditioned into have disappeared, these ones stretch from my garden to the solar system, to the stars and all that surrounds us. They have always been there, but in the short-wave noise of my daily life these subtler, long-wave frequencies were drowned out. The plants know about those rhythms and respond to them through the days and nights and seasons, but in the artificiality of my previous existence I had hardly registered them.
Which means a massive reprogramming. I can feel my systems almost going into shock at the very prospect. Can I trust this larger realm? Will I still be able to go to the supermarket for supplies, and will I be able to pay for them? And again, how will I manage?
In this context, the social distancing requirement is a bit spooky. Our body’s electromagnetic field, our personal space, stretches about a metre out. This requirement means an almost monastic seclusion within our own aura space. Which is just what is needed if we are being reprogrammed.
There is a serious quality to this reprogramming. It gives me a chance to see and value the place where I live, to sense the many stories going on here, from the wildlife to the trees and plants as they respond to the days and nights and the season. From that location in myself I can start to perceive the larger realm we all move within. And this is real, in a way that the distractions that used to fill my life were not. I feel more grounded, more located, than I ever have been in my life.