“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see”
Henry David Thoreau
Yesterday I chose cycling as my daily rationed exercise.
Peppered by floating cherry blossom and lit up from time to time by slices of sunshine cutting through cloud, I rode around my south west London ‘hood’, passing walkers and being passed by the odd cyclist – all of us in a surreal circuit of social distancing activity.
And all of us trying to make sense of it all.
But, as if by magic, as I set off past a neighbour’s house the air was suddenly filled with the sound of a child’s violin lesson – and when I returned an hour later, the music was still dancing in our street. It was simply this that lifted and stirred me and made some sense of my daily outing.
At a time when physical social distancing has had to be enshrined in our lives it seems to me that it has led to an even greater need for all of us to seek closer emotional social ties and a greater intimacy with each other. I guess that may be true at any time of crisis when we all share a common goal, but this seems to me to be more than that. This is a shared experience where even our nearest and dearest may be a potential threat to our well being – the enemy is within not without – and so perhaps we begin to feel more keenly and acutely the human experience that we all share.
That common human experience is rooted in the things we all need and value both in the physical world – food, medicine, shelter, physical health – and in the spiritual world – love, morals, music, art, mental health, optimism, hope. These worlds – body and spirit – are of course inextricably linked and in many ways interdependent. At this time when, for almost the first time in our lifetime in the west, we find ourselves rationed – be it in our movement, our food, our freedom – though on a small scale compared to other parts of the world – we can readily empathize with our fellow human beings and recognize the things that have real value and importance in all our lives and the things that don’t.
Maybe just maybe getting through this bloody virus together we too – like the child learning her violin down our road – will stick to the lessons now to be learnt by us all with the same dedication and desire for improving our world – with love, hope and optimism for a better future.
And I have no doubt that music will continue to play its part, as it always has done.
On yer bike……and take care of yourselves and others….
“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow”