Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Push Pause

Don't waste this.

This: this experience we're sharing as a species is a rare opportunity. To pay attention. To notice. What do you feel? Let's start with something easier. What do you hear?

It's quiet where I am. I walk in the middle of the street to keep my distance from people and hardly ever have to get out of the way of a car. Traffic is mostly gone. I don't even hear many airplanes and we live near the airport. That quiet is the sound of fuel that doesn't have to be used, of trips that don't have to be made. How many of our trips really had to be made, before?

Are you able to work from home? More and more people can. If they can now, is there a good reason to commute later? Are all the conferences and meetings in person necessary, or even desirable? One person I know has been surprised to discover he's getting more work done from home.

Are you counting squares of toilet paper? Are you wasting less food? Are you thinking of putting in your first garden? What happened to all the toilet paper? Did everyone just suddenly shit themselves? How scared are we?

Are you frightened? Stressed? Don't waste this moment. Let it tell you who you are and what you're afraid of. Dying? What changed? You were always going to die. All that busyness you engaged in before--was it just to distract you? Pay attention to your fear. Notice it, and move on to something else.

What are you thinking about? What does it sound like in your head if nothing is distracting you? Do you imagine you should be getting a lot of stuff done now? What if there's nothing at all going through your head? Would that really be a bad thing?

What can you not do without? Why? Listen to yourself.

People are complaining about something they call social isolation...on the internet. They are discussing their loneliness with friends and strangers all over the world, all at once, all the time. They feel bereft. What happened? Not long ago, phone calls were too expensive to make often, or for long; we heard from each other at Christmas and once or twice a year by letter, if we were lucky. Friends, parents, children, everyone. It was fine. Not long before that, people would get in a wagon and go away from their friends and family basically forever. Now we are all rattled if we don't get our text messages returned right away. Are we better off for this? We're so tense. This super-connection: is it good for us? If you had to do without physical human contact, or do without the internet, which would you choose?

Do you feel compelled to read the latest about COVID-19? You want to keep up with the latest recommendations, sure. Then do you also need to hear and share everything you can about how dreadful Trump is? You already know how you're voting. Those people defending that sorry soul online are only going to keep you up at night. You can't spank them from your own device, and correcting their spelling doesn't have the sting you think it does. They don't care. Leave them alone. They're keeping you from paying attention. From noticing.

So do that. Go outside. Don't take any devices with you. Write a list for a scavenger hunt. Nothing is funner than a scavenger hunt! I'll start you off. Find an insect you've never seen. Find a bird. Find a bird carrying sticks and follow that bird until you know where it's going and what it's doing. Find something on the underside of a leaf. It could be on the ground, or still on the plant; turn leaves over until you find a spider, a gall, a fungus, a bug, a salamander, a larva, life. Find something natural that is sphere-shaped. Find a feather.

Find a drawing of anything, or even a doodle. Done by you. Earlier today.

Find the thing you're most afraid of. Stare it down until you're bored with it. Until it gives up on you and passes by. Live.

All these photos were taken in one twenty-minute outing in my yard, just after I finished typing this up. This is the first day I've seen crows with nesting material, and I've been looking. And then Studley showed up when I was trying to get a photo of a bumble bee. He wrecked that. All my bee photos were out of focus. If I had worries, I completely forgot about them.

50 comments:

  1. Good advise. I would choose people every time.

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    1. Me too! In moderation. (I was once startled to read that there'd been a poll: Could you go a month without the internet if you got a million dollars for it? REALLY?)

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  2. Control what we can and do the best with what we can't right now. It is not the known problems that stress us out, it is the lack of control of when we can get "stuff" or where we can get "stuff. We need much less than we think and need time outside more. At some point we will/are starting to realize that life is not always easy, but living can still be good, fun, just different than it used to be...a month or two ago. Things change, life goes on and then yes, we die at some point. It is what we do between the dates that is important. Sorry a bit of a brain dump first thing this morning. ;-)

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    1. Understanding what is beyond our control is a key to happiness, I think.

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  3. Yesterday the Husband and I spent a good half hour (and it WAS good!) watching 3 large flies (we assumed) hovering at strategic points in the yard, aggressively guarding their perimeters. One was right in the flight path of the barn swallows nesting in our front porch, but the birds never bothered it. Sometimes, in fact, it looked as though the "fly" was chasing the bird out of its territory! They were nearly as assholey as hummingbirds. It was a wonderful show to watch.

    Thank you for this calming post.

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    1. I never thought to track flies. That sounds fascinating! New project today!

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  4. I have shared this to my friends with the accompanying rider, "This lady is on a different continent, with different wildlife and different politicians. That said, the words are universal. When I am uptight, I try to remember to BeMoreMurr." Thank you for your insightful thoughts.

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  5. For one explanation of the toilet tissue shortage, see the addition that I made this morning to my blog post of yesterday. It isn't just hoarding, according to a report I watched on TV last night.

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    1. That makes sense. Now, my mom HOARDED TP. She must have had a traumatic shortage experience at some point.

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    2. The Great Depression & WWII were what drove my grandmother to fill her house to brim with paper and non-perishables. Of the two, the Depression really did her brain in.

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    3. Mom and Dad were typical of their generation in not talking about it, or in my limited experience I assume they were typical. Mom did talk about the dust bowl in North Dakota.

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  6. Wow, Murr! This could be a good guided meditation as it stands, before even implementing the ideas. This town is dead quiet which is a little quieter than normal for this time of year. Being early spring there are lots of bird sounds and even though many are out of my hearing range I can still hear many. The woodpeckers in the wood lot across the street for example. From my office window I have been watching the crows flying by with a beak full of nesting material. Quite a few people walking in the streets and they are all friendly, even the ones I don't know. When it gets a little warmer I am going to sit out on the rock wall in front of my cabin and play my guitar. Maybe try a singalong from a short distance. More possibilities become clear as time goes by, including more victory gardens when the ground thaws a little more.

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    1. Once it gets warmer, my neighbor and I are going to do piano/cello duets. Me on the piano with the window open, she on the front walk. I can't wait.

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  7. Aside from no longer being able to get home delivery of groceries my life has not changed at all - I still see no one or talk to anyone except my husband and cats. Oh yes, now I HAVE to go out once a week for groceries or starve LOL I actually interact less online as well, I deactivated my FB page, never used it much anyway. I also watch NO tv, am eating less and losing weight, which is a good thing. So aside from worrying about OTHER people, life is the same and maybe a tiny bit better.

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    1. Most people have gained weight, from what I hear.

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  8. What do I hear? On my 30-minute walk, this morning, I heard an old muscle car zooming by (presumably driven by a young person?), the barking of several dogs, numerous Canada geese, a Mallard duck, some purple martins (first of season), a lone brown thrasher (first of season), several Eastern phoebes, robins, cardinals, "whish" of a bicyclist zooming by, and the friendly greeting of a neighbor who was sitting on his front porch reading a newspaper.

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    1. I haven't heard the geese coming back yet. Maybe I missed it?

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    2. I think I found the weight you lost... most folks here are getting groceries shopped for them. Just have to pick them up. Doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

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    3. I got two weeks' worth last time; next time I'm going to the slightly smaller store that is more expensive and is doing a WAY better job of spacing people out and cleaning things. Plus a local food coop that is also doing well.

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  9. Thanks, Murr, for sharing these thoughts today. Wonderful job. I'm loving the peace and quiet, and watching my Spring bulbs start to pop their little noggins up. Stay well.

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    1. I have one neighbor who likes to sit in his car and listen to his music really loud. When he's not doing that, it's remarkable how much quieter it is now. Traffic is a major noise producer.

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  10. Pause is fine. The quiet is blissful and I need less rather than more. Much less.
    The garden continues to sing its siren song. As do the birds.

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    1. Wouldn't it be fun to trade birds and gardens for a week or so?

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  11. I'm outside every day. I've started my own spastic yoga practice. In an effort to drag my husband away from his work from home bondage, we had our first lunchtime walk today. We've still got way too much traffic and air noise but it's better than it was.

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    1. After not practicing for 20 years, my yoga is definitely spastic AF.

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  12. Thank you. I needed to hear this.

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    1. You're welcome! What did you see out there?

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    2. Is that Studley on your fingertip? How wonderful :) :)
      What are those very pretty pink and purple flowers? I went outside earlier today and got blinded by the brilliance of the sun.
      It is quieter around here a lot of the time now, still a bit too much traffic for my liking, but early in the morning and late afternoon, I can hear more birds than before. I'm hearing cheeps and whistles that I never heard in all the time I've lived here.

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    3. That is The Man Himself. He totally photobombed my bumble bee shot, so then I just went and got him a mealworm and took that picture.

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    4. Oh, and those are a pink form of Pulmonaria. I think they're usually blue.

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  13. bemoremurr, so true, you always lighten my heart when I see your blog. In my small village in Yorkshire, there is so much blossom from the fruit trees, the sun is shining, birds of all creed and colour sing to the world. You can't beat a pheasant for sheer vogue fashion, even if he is a bit dim!

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    1. They always seem to have such tiny heads. I certainly have never had a Yard Pheasant.

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  14. Beautiful piece.

    I feel bad I'm loving this. So I find some time to give back. I host an 8 am AA meeting. Make calls sporadically through the day. Work an hour, play and hour. More or less. New greenhouse. Bitchin garden. Add blue stripes to the bathroom walls because. Got that yard art...all that yard art finally put up. Learning ukulele.

    What I don't hear - my wife's daily "I want to retire and just sew." She's home sewing masks for her co-workers still working, and in heaven. Lunch together and 20 min of comedy on the tv.

    The days fly by so fast.

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    1. It is truly grand for those who can amuse themselves. Me, I crack myself up. Just this morning I turned and missed the doorway and walked into a wall in my own house. Although I meant a different kind of amusement.

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  15. bemoremurr...definitely words to live by in these strange (sometimes strangely wonderful) days spent at home. Time to putter in the garden (puttering being my all-time favorite occupation), watch what the birds are doing (some of it is x-rated), read, and just BE. Thanks for the lovely reminder that this is enough...more than enough.

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    1. We're having good puttering weather here, too. I have several large garden projects (putting in a new path, etc..) that I'm still not getting to.

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  16. Are they offering? I'm game...but how will they notify me when I win? Carrier pigeon?

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  17. ...I mean that about a million bucks to stay off the net for a month.

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    1. It would be SO easy. And I'm on the sucker every day. But still.

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  18. A particularly nice post to read given that I dumped a mug of cold tea into the keyboard of New Hotness immediately after installing the Catalina OS. Writing from Old and Busted (Snow Leopard) which can barely find the Internet. Love this post.

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    1. I don't even know what my OS is. I can't remember if I ever got away from the Geological Wonders and into the Wild Cats. Scares the heck out of me to change anything. (Uh, witness this blog template...)

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  19. This is my favorite post EVER, Murr. Thank you for sharing your curious, gentle self with us. If there's anything to be grateful for during a pandemic, you've found it. Namaste.

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