THE ENFORCED STOP
In 2020 the world came to an enforced stop.
Come mid-March the people in New Zealand were asked to remain in their homes. Non-essential services stopped, travel stopped, tourism stopped, almost everything stopped.
There were no cars on the roads, no planes in the air, no people out and about. No tourists exploring local and remote areas and therefore no helicopters, speed boats, bicycles or camper vans.
The incessant hum of human activity across the globe was vastly diminished, and in NZ, it had all but ceased.
It was strange.
It was surprising and sometimes shocking.
It was unavoidably noticeable.
Nature then, seemed to step forth whilst remaining exactly as it was and had always been.
Mountains retook their place by doing nothing at all, trees stood tall and moved only by the dictate of the wind as they always have. Rivers and streams flowed incessantly on and their sound could easily be heard.
Stars shone all the brighter, the clarity at times startling with the air clear of its customary haze.
Only then in the quiet and stillness that prevailed did we begin to realise how much noise and frenetic activity we had been living in. Our incessant human activity startlingly highlighted by its absence.
For many it was a good excuse to check out, for others a period of grace and realisations, for others still an absolute agony as microscopic focus was brought to financial worries and domestic violence and mental health issues, each of which skyrocketed.
Though the circumstances were unprecedented and alarming, a virus threatening our society and very fabric of life, it seemed we were also presented with an opportunity.
An opportunity to deeply feel and appreciate what has always been there, though largely unnoticed due to our constant activity.
The stillness and space around us, reflecting back that it is also within us.
An opportunity to feel it, appreciate it, enjoy it, make room for it, and bring it back into our lives… or not.
There was a moment during the lockdown as I drove the highway for my work which highlighted this.
That morning there wasn’t a breath, a caress of wind, in any of the trees nearby nor in the distance. Not an autumn leaf moved or fell. It was magical. Even the truck and trailer ahead caused little stir to the roadside hedges and trees, where usually they are buffeted by those trucks as they are passing.
This day they moved very little. The feeling though strange was also beautiful and I was held in wonder for miles.
It was as though nature, the environment that we are a part of, had had the same opportunity as we; to stop, to breathe, to feel and to embrace the spaciousness and the stillness being offered. And rather than nature being, as it is in our human eyes, just something you travel through to get somewhere else, it had a moment of holding its equal place.