Submitted by Laura Bullock
It dawned on me today while looking through my kitchen window at the birds on the feeder and the chipmunk scurrying underneath for fallen tidbits of seeds, that as much as I love to sit and observe nature, the roles now seem to have been reversed. Is the bird now looking at me through the window? Is the chipmunk coming up to the sliding door and peering in to observe my actions? Is the hawk circling overhead watching my movements that are limited by the railing on the back deck?
In many ways, nature must be breathing a sigh of relief at the freedom from the relentless activity of humans. Cars barreling down roadways, airplanes and leaf blowers, toxins flowing into rivers, smokestacks spewing, the incessant chatter of our voices, our constant rush to get from one place to the next and the frenetic energy unleashed into the air from the pursuit.
Staying home is a necessity at the moment. I’ve cleaned the closets, washed the toilets, done the laundry, put together puzzles and played board games. I’ve had Zoom calls with friends and family, walked the block, and then the next block and the next, purged the sock drawer, made loaves of zucchini bread, attempted YouTube exercise classes, binge-watched ‘Ozark’ and “Schitt’s Creek’ and hunted down the elusive last roll of toilet paper.
I have all this time on my hands yet motivation to begin some grand or even small project seems to be fading.
Is this what a caged animal feels like? When the enclosure has been explored, the boundaries have been tested, and the toys have all been played with, what am I left with?
There is a freedom in not feeling guilty about sitting for hours and reading a book. There is wonderful family time and long walks that are reminiscent of my childhood. I now have discovered three new ways to use eggplant. Who knew?
But there is also boredom. Lack of motivation. Sometimes my fuse is short and I feel cranky. I snap. I find myself seeking out a small corner of the house to have some ‘me’ time. I feel caged. Domestic violence is up. The divorce rate is climbing. I feel like I’m in an episode of ‘Tiger King’.
As I watch the bird come and go I can’t help but be reminded of my limitations and frustrations. How it must feel to be caged. Cramped, isolated and trapped. I’ve lost some of my spark.
I don’t mean to come across as complaining. I am oh so thankful my family is safe and healthy and we don’t have financial worries. I am blessed beyond belief!
I do hope we hold on to some of these lessons though. Of slowing down, family dinners, of what does and doesn’t matter, appreciating the simple pleasure of walking next to someone on the sidewalk without seeing angst in their eyes. I will be so grateful when I can hug my friend with cancer, sit with my elderly neighbor who is alone and get on a plane to visit my parents.
Until then I will sit behind the glass and watch the bird watching me …