My first post was just after the Planned Power outages that PG&E rolled out to avoid wildfires last fall. We had power but all over the state people lived for days with no refrigeration, markets ran out of food, gas stations could not be open because the pumps didn't work. Now here we are, six months later, sheltering in place due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. And here's the thing, we needed this. It is hard, it is scary and it is good. We are still, life has mostly stopped. The earth is breathing a huge sigh of relief. We can learn from this.
What lessons can we take away from all of these "disasters"?
Here's my list:
I think the next "run" after toilet paper, is going to be on baby chicks. I'm ordering some now, and finally going full circle, back to my childhood love of getting fresh eggs from the chicken coop. The chickens are coming...soon.
Working from Home:
When I was a kid, there was hardly any traffic in the SF Bay Area. My parents would just drive places never thinking what the traffic would be like and how it would impact their trip. It's like that right now. There is no traffic! I almost want to go drive around just to experience it. Overnight, so many big companies said "Work from home." Who knew it was that easy? My job was already remote and I am so grateful that I'm all set up to work right now. Yes, my kids are home and that is making things more difficult, but it turns out a lot more of us could be working from home and that single reality could impact traffic more than any freeway widening or mass public transit. I hope that when the shelter in place is lifted that some of this "sticks" - people learn that they can live where they work or work where they live and that 2+ hours do not have to be dedicated to driving each day. And employers can see that being flexible might actually increase productivity. We can flex and be even stronger.
Or Maybe Not...
I've been working on this post for a few days and I guess the quarantine is getting to me, but today, I don't feel so hopeful that as a collective culture, we will learn from this. Bernie Sanders dropped out of the Democratic race today. I guess everyone knew he would at some point. But today was the day. I didn't vote for him in the primaries, I voted for Elizabeth Warren. Why? because I am an optimist and I believe in change and in kindness to all humans, animals and the earth. And I thought she would be our best chance at change. When she dropped out, I thought maybe Bernie would be able to pull it off. Then it started looking bleak for him in the primaries. But as COVID-19 upended everything there was a glimmer of hope - maybe the people in the middle could see that universal healthcare, free education (and loan forgiveness) and strong social services were not crazy ideas - they are filling basic human needs. Maybe they could see that and get behind a socialist democrat. But no, not today, not next year, not for the next four years after that. And so today, I feel like we are on the crazy train, towards more wake up calls - more fires, less electricity, more viruses we don't understand. And I have no idea what it's going to take to "wake us up". I don't want to know. Because if this shelter in place for 7+ weeks doesn't do it, I don't want to imagine what rock bottom is. I really don't.
I guess the optimist needs to meet the fatalist and figure out a plan. Some of the ideas I listed, they are good. If I can pull them off, then I'll be more prepared, in the midst of whatever craziness will follow. So I'll still be planting a bigger garden, canning food and maybe (if I'm brave enough) getting chickens.
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Sometimes I wonder if I was born in the right time... I long for a bygone era and yet I dream of a future that holds the best of technology mixed with the “old ways” that are so much gentler on us and the earth.