spring flowers

In this moment that our hearts have been broken, they have also opened. Opened to the world that has always been before us, but we often were too busy to witness. While it seems logical that a global pandemic would force us to see how connected we all are, ironically, it was the act of self-isolation and social distancing that really connected my family to our community.

We’ve experienced loss and helplessness. But in that sadness, we discovered we are not alone. In collective mourning, strangers and loved ones have shared poems, art and inspiration. A neighbor I’ve never met serendipitously delivered a bouquet of flowers only moments after I learned an older friend had passed. 

Meanwhile, we have turned grief into connection; we’ve shopped for those who cannot, supported isolated parents from afar, extended parachutes of safety to those in need, all of which makes us each feel lighter, more buoyant, more alive. Then, each evening at 8pm, we’ve howled with fellow Boulderites on our porches, collectively thanking our tireless care workers, and offering a primal call to one another: we are not alone.

Together, apart, we’ve slowed down. We’ve replaced to-do with to-be. And we pay attention, not taking our privilege for granted. We’ve hiked with our kids in every kind of weather. We’ve discovered mountain lion tracks, red crossbills, spring peepers, antlers, scapulas, femurs, purple Pasque flowers, newly hatched eggs, abandoned nests, rock statues, the strut and gobble of turkeys, sun-filled snowflakes, glowing clouds, night hikes, moon shadows, owls, Venus, our north star.

walk in the snow, evening

Connection no longer is about the surface-life of what we did, are doing or planning, but about the deep-life of love, appreciation and gratitude. To give thanks and celebrate, I dance in my home-office with fun-loving souls in isolation from around the world in a virtual dance party that makes me laugh and appreciate humanity.

There is no denying that healthcare workers, artists and laborers are our backbone. Our collective oxygen, however, is kindness and love. This pandemic has shown that when we distance ourselves from what used to be called “social” - a superficial frenetic busyness- we realize that deep connection is not only possible, but vital. We are ONE, we are LOVE, and this makes us stronger together, more alive.

By Tania Schoennagel
Research Scientist
Geography and INSTAAR

This post was prompted by a resilience journaling challenge led by Susie Rinehart:

The Resilience Journals is a 30-day journaling challenge that can be started any time. Susie Rinehart, with a powerful list of guest authors and artists, is offering 30 prompts to inspire 1-11 minutes of free writing each morning. It’s an intergenerational project. Hundreds of us are doing this now, together but apart, to reduce the feeling of isolation and to record this unique time in history. Sign up here. It’s FREE!

Journaling is an antidote to fear. It untangles our knots. It wakes us up to beauty. 

Susie is used to being in isolation. She gave a TEDx talk about it. She had to separate herself when diagnosed with a major brainstem tumor, underwent major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. What sustained her then and now is keeping a journal. Any act of creativity works, but journaling is simple, and doesn't require a lot of space or time. She'll send you one prompt a day by email. That’s it.  Join us!

Once this collective isolation is over, we are planning an event in which young and old can share excerpts from their journals and recognize how connected and resilient we are! Stay tuned.