What 3 Things Are You Most Afraid Will Happen In These Strange Times?
Is it the possibility of loss of life, your own or another’s, making you most afraid? Is it the feeling this worldwide illness will never end? Is it a growing awareness we could become residents of a barren land in some post-apocalyptic earth?
All three scenarios have filled the pages of science fiction books for a very long time. Earth Abides, written in 1947, describes a pandemic so close to what we are experiencing now it is eerie. I had read the book twice before now, each time never imagining such a crisis would ever be part of my life. I’ve read about the plagues that beset Europe in medieval times when 1/3 of its population was lost, and I know about the devastation of plague in the London of 1665. I know in great detail how illness can spread in contemporary times, with Ebola and HIV-AIDS, and how it can arise even in sparsely populated areas far distances apart.
But in my thoughts it has always been happening to someone else, somewhere else. Not here. Not where I live. Not to me or people I know.
And had I ever given thought to such an event as real, I am certain I would never have imagined, in a country as wealthy as ours, that we lacked sufficient resources to provide help to those on the front lines combating the scourge, and all those in the population in need of protection. Never in a million years would I have considered that a probable, much less a possible reality.
Yet so it is. And I have asked myself the very question that is the title of this essay. My answer surprised me. My greatest fear was that we would emerge in a post-apocalyptic world in a barren land, in a place where there were few people, if any. And a second thought came that surprised me, the realization that for the earth itself, for the wildlife on land and in the sea, for the forests and prairies and mountains and valleys, our absence would be a boon. Our pillaging of everything would have ceased. The earth could be restored without us.
A poem has haunted me these weeks past. I first encountered it in a short story by Ray Bradbury which is part of his Martian Chronicles — “There Will Come Soft Rains.” Bradbury took the title from a poem by Sara Teasdale. She wrote about an earth devoid of people, which is the subject of Bradbury’s story:
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows calling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
When we return to a new normal, for it’s a given we’ll never be going back to the old normal, we have a chance to make right what we have done wrong to this precious earth and each other. Call it a second chance. We have a way to offer our best self for the betterment of this planet and all her creatures.
I watch the first responders, all the people on the front lines helping make our world work even when they face immense danger to themselves.
I feel I can do no less.
However the way comes to us, we are not meant to be guided by fear of death or be afraid that the old normal is now gone or that our world will end.
We are meant to let go of our fear and say yes to a path that includes above all a new level and awareness of cooperation and compassion. Such an awareness is critical to our survival. The particular path we take according to our personal skills and talents may not be on the world stage, but it will make a difference, it will have an impact. It will change everything we encounter for the good, because we have chosen to make it so.
Each moment we act with the grace of spirit that is needed now, we raise the frequency of the earth and its people into something better than we were.