Love in the Time of Coronavirus

“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
-Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

 

Andre sits beneath the charred trunk an old eucalypt and he sighs.

 

Thoughts crowd his head; opinions of others, shouty opinions of others.

 

Urgency and alarm blind his sight.

 

Andre’s head aches.

 

Sitting alone at the foot of a scarred tree, a tree alive with red bloom, Andre recognises that a time of vulnerability is upon the human race.

 

Why?

 

“Because actions of others are a real and present danger to me. And my actions are a real and serious threat to others.”

 

 

 

A palette of rainbow lorikeets sits in the tree’s lower branches.

 

 

Andre understands that an extremely contagious virus is upon the population and without collective voluntary action, the future for many is grim.

 

A responsible policy of enforced isolation has brought job losses, economic turmoil and unprecedented social upheaval. Already, the present for many is shocking.

 

“Hard times are upon us,” Andre says to the tree. “What am I to do?”

 

 

“Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny–he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, some work has to be completed. You are not here accidentally–you are here meaningfully. There is a purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you.”
-Osho

 

Andre sits and looks at the sky.

In the summer this sky was filled with the smoke of horrendous bushfires.

In the autumn this sky is the fluid through which COVID-19 moves from one person to another.

“What next?” he wonders.

 

In the distance a bank of cumulo nimbus clouds turn from white to yellow to orange and then turn to pink as they catch the evening sunset.

 

So much misinformation clogs the airwaves.

So many egos fight for attention.

 

“The less people know, the more stubbornly they know it.”
-Osho

 

 

A twig snaps somewhere behind him. Andre does not look around.

 

There is everything to do and there is nothing to do.

 

The sun’s rays slant into the distant canopy.

 

 

Andre knows to fiercely enact the policy of social distancing.

He knows it is the best way to minimise the spread of the virus.

And he is ready to be a leader.

To make sacrifices for the common good.

Andre is ready to love.

Andre is love.

 

 

And Andre notices.

 

 

Andre tastes the bitterness of defeat in those who have lost their jobs; the sour tang of confusion, the fizz of anger; the stale cloud of resignation.

 

And he hears the three-year-old, the child whose childcare centre closed today, tonight say to her mother: “Mum, tomorrow I will work from home. Just like you.”

 

Andre feels the shocked and saddened boss at the café offer everything and more to his shocked and saddened employees. “This is all I have.”

 

And he smells the woman at number 7 take a handful of homegrown basil in the evening sun from the man down at number 1.

 

Andre sees it.

Andre notices that already sprout the unlikely tendrils of life.

 

An army of ants spills over the red brown soil as a joke spills over a comedy show audience.

 

“Take hold of your own life.
See that the whole existence is celebrating.
These trees are not serious, these birds are not serious.
The rivers and the oceans are wild,
and everywhere there is fun,
everywhere there is joy and delight.
Watch existence,
listen to the existence and become part of it.”
-Osho

 

 

Cell by photosynthesising cell, ant by ant, life beats on. And on.

 

Andre looks up, looks high into the very roof of the tree.

 

 

“What will happen to us?”

 

The question hangs in the evening air. It bounces off many trunks of trees, off leaves, off gumnuts and flowers and bounces off the feathers and even off the bright orange beaks of several rainbow lorikeets.

 

 

“What will happen to us?”

Any tree is a fine listener. A eucalyptus tree is a very fine listener.

 

 

“What will happen to us?”

 

The question goes on reverberating from the foliage, the soil, the microscopic fauna; until all the sound waves that carried it are absorbed.

 

Still Andre sits and waits.

 

In a slow evening breeze, the eucalyptus tree sways slightly. And then it gently sways again. Setting sunlight touches only the uppermost leaves in its canopy.

 

Andre thinks of his own grandmother in a nearby town. He thinks of that old man that he sees each weekday morning, as the man walks towards the primary school where he patrols the school crossing. Andre thinks of his neighbour who works as an emergency doctor at the city hospital.

 

Darkness comes slowly. With the onset of darkness, Andre listens and then he feels the tree’s answer.

 

Andre nods once in the darkness.

 

Ants crawl into his trousers.

 

Andre nods again.

 

There is no sound.

 

 

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
-Rumi

 

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About David Wilson

David Wilson is a writer, editor, flood forecaster and former school teacher. He writes under the name “E.regnans” at The Footy Almanac and has stories in several books. He is married and has two daughters and the four of them all live together with their dog, Pip. He finds playing the guitar a little tricky, but seems to have found a kindred instrument with the ukulele. Favourite tree: Eucalyptus regnans.

Comments

  1. Interesting times ER. Interesting thoughts we’re all having.

    I like that the tree is really the central character here. My great uncle, who was a Jesuit priest and a man who spent his whole life trying to understand and interpret the scripture (he spoke 7 languages) used to say that the best way to understand God (he was a priest after all) is to find a big tree and hug it. Pretty simple idea for such a learned man.

  2. John Butler says

    ER, I needed that. Thanks.

  3. Colin Ritchie says

    Fab work ER as always. Tough times we are facing as we approach and need to comprehend a brave new world that is surely coming. The last line says it all ER.

  4. “What next?” he wonders.
    This does sum it all up, really.

    Thanks, e.r. Excellent stuff.

  5. Wonderful piece. Love the last quote by Rumi. Having spent 30 years wasting opportunity have squirrelled acorns madly the last decade or so. What is life if not for learning? Not all swans are white.
    10 favourites winning in a row means 30 losers are overdue.
    Things revert to the mean (explains Trump). Boris channeling Churchill (stopped clocks are right twice a day).
    Ring friends who are struggling. There is comfort in being heard. And occasional help. Hope that our luck holds.
    No longer having a vast range of distractions makes Kindle and my unread bookshelves (75% of them) strangely welcoming.
    Shandy the Wonderdog is 15 and requires only short walks to the park in the next street. Has he been preparing me for social isolation? The wisdom of dogs.
    The Avenging Eagle eyes the garden and the unexplored cupboards/filing cabinets in the garage threateningly.
    If not now, when?
    “Tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. Creeps at this petty pace from day to day.”

  6. E.regnans says

    Many thanks Dips, JB, Col, Smokie & Peter_B.

    I’ve touched the keyboard again now. Off to wash these hands.
    Stay safe everyone.

  7. Thanks ER.

    I see you as a great encourager.

    Interesting that I was thinking about my Dad – who died in 2010 – last night, as I am inclined to do in uneasy times. He was a great one for seeing Life, and every day, as a gift. In his case a gift from God. Hence grace was an enormous foundation of his understanding or, more correctly, his being.

  8. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Philosphers will philosphise. Rememberers like me will have to keep remembering. The past is unwritten.

  9. Luke Reynolds says

    Beautiful ER

  10. E.regnans says

    Thank you all.

    We continue our journey into the collective unknown.
    The words we tell ourselves, the stories we tell ourselves so important right now.
    Build our our own reality.

  11. Many thanks for the gentle reminder of this today, E.r

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