In the months leading up to self-isolation, my daily existence began to speed up and veer out of control. Life whizzed by and exiting the speeding train seemed impossible. But as we moved into week four of deeper breathing, I noticed small, imperceptible changes in myself and in nature.
As a child, I walked with my grandfather through the woods of Northern California. We identified trees, plants, bugs, spiders, animal tracks and the occasional sound of the cicadae or rattle snake. He’d come to an abrupt halt and say, “Look!” pointing to the ground in front of us. Head down, I’d search the earth noticing a small hold in the dirt with pine needles standing like a tepee around it. “That’s the home of the trapdoor spider,” he’d explain. I’d bend down to take a closer look at the intricate design, marveling at how a spider could stack pine needles in such a precise fashion. On some walks, we’d collect leaves and flowers and later press them into notebooks. On one walk, we discovered an abandoned paper wasp’s nest on a branch just above our heads. Careful to preserve the nest, my grandfather sawed the branch and boxed it so that I could share it with my seventh-grade science class.
This new isolation paradigm has me revisiting those moments, noticing slight changes as if I were peering through a microscope instead of out the window of a speeding train. Each day my awareness and sensitivity seem to intensify. I notice the changes in the trees as they bud, blossom and bloom. Yesterday, on my walk, I glimpsed a fox out of the corner of my eye as she scurried to her den and paused to witness the grace of an egret taking flight—things I may have missed on previous outings. Today, I culled through photographs, reminding myself of past travels and imagined new possibilities. These days, hours and moments allow time to replenish my reservoir of balance, presence and gratitude.
It’s the details that ground me and enrich my life.