I See Beauty Everywhere
After three weeks or so in lockdown, (can’t say for certain how long, I haven’t kept count), I don’t have any big insights into what is going on right now or what the future will bring. Neither have I invented anything that will revolutionize or save the world. I’ve just tried to maintain a ‘normal’ routine as much as possible. I’ve had to swap walking straight into a supermarket and buying whatever I want with queuing up for 30 minutes to get in and then buying whatever is available. Daily drop-in to the pool or gym have been replaced by pilates classes on YouTube and working-out in the park. I pop round to see friends via FaceTime and Signal. Instead of making eye contact with and even striking up conversations with passersby (I’ve met some of my closest friends and favorite people this way), I cross the road to maintain 2m of space. It’s been frustrating but this feeling is dispersed by the beauty I see everywhere. Thank you mother spring!
I wake up every day to birds chirping away. I open the windows and I feel like I’m in a cinema with a Dolby sound system that carries pitch perfect bird songs all over. From the windows I see that the deciduous trees are springing up, their buds in varying shades of green and the occasional red. They are so mesmerizing I find myself staring at them for a good while, not thinking about all the things I have to do for the day. When I step out of my house, the pavements and front gardens I pass are furnished with even more trees budding and blooming away. I take longer than usual to get to my destination (usually the park) as I’m distracted by their colors, leaves and petals. Just when I think I’ve seen the prettiest, I arrive at another tree with even more beautiful flowers. Didn’t know that fuchsia and lilac could look as good on anyone or anything as they do on these trees. At times, I am so moved that I find myself patting the stalk of the trees in both admiration and gratitude. I try to remember if I have ever seen these trees looking so springy. Were they even here last spring? I know they were as I have been walking on these same roads on and off for years. I put it down to the fact that London hasn’t had spring in a good while, at least not one as sunny and clear as we have been enjoying since the lockdown.
I arrive at the park without the usual podcast or music blaring away in my ears. Instead I am accompanied by bird songs. I wonder if they have always been there and I just didn’t notice. My headphones don’t have noise cancelling feature, so I would have heard them if they had been there. I had only heard birds at the crack of dawn and in late afternoon if I happened to be in a park.
As I search for a spot to do my exercise routine for the day I smile at the sight of a couple of pensioners doing their Nordic walking, more determined with each step. I chuckle at a middle aged mother with her two sons playing football. Judging by the way she is kicking the football she is filling in for her husband. The boys stare at her with the same bewildered look my godsons give me when I play football with them. I admire the form and strength of a man with gymnastic rings tied to a tree. I wonder if I shouldn’t get some too. Nah, I have a dodgy shoulder! I’m in luck, my favorite place is free (see picture). It comes equipped with stones of varying sizes and shapes that make me not miss a Swiss ball or steps machine or a bench. In whatever direction I do lunges or squats there are trees to look at instead of sweaty gym members. I get to spot what new accessories the oaks and beeches have added to their crowns since I was there the day before. In between drills I rest by dancing to Justin Bieber (only his Purpose album) like I’m dancing to J Balvin. I finish my exercises when I’m supposed to in 45 mins, not allowing for extra time to wait for gym equipment to free up nor to have conversations with my gym buddies.
I make one last stop before I leave the park to visit the colonies of chestnut and sycamore trees to see how they are getting ready for the summer. I reminisce about how I’ve sought refuge under their crowns on many hot summer days. They are filling out beautifully, I am thrilled. As I walk away not only do I see beauty but I also see possibilities.
I see the possibility that ‘this’ will soon be over. I see scientists coming up with a vaccine in record time. “Never before, researchers say, have so many experts in so many countries focused simultaneously on a single topic and with such urgency.” I see the possibility of us demanding better governments that prioritize healthcare and scientific and medical research. Maybe Boris Johnson and his team will actually cough up the £350 million a week they had promised for the NHS (National Health Service) after Brexit. I see the new appreciation parents have for teachers lasting beyond when schools resume. They will not bemoan the so-called long holidays teachers get nor them going on strike to demand fairer working conditions and wages. I see local manufacturing coming back into fashion. I see the possibility that today will be better than yesterday.