At 6 AM everyday, I see an old man sitting alone in the park, sipping hot coffee from his Peet’s mug. He keeps his mask under his chin, and watches the birds flying above. I try to keep the social distance, tip-toe, and balance my steps with my foggy glasses and cotton masks. Yet I wonder why he is there, for months, at that time of the day, alone.
Most probably I know the answer.
The cloudy mornings, nowadays, are my favorite. It’s the only time of the day when the sun is not its summer self, the sound of the wind stirs my soul, and perhaps the only time when I can clearly listen to my own thoughts. It’s a first world pandemic issue- to long for the quiet to think.
Everyday I wake up at around 5 am now to greet that quiet. Since March, outside my windows, in my garden, little birds visit; they are never silent as they outnumbered the early riser humans. Their chirping has become my natural alarm. I like this. I like waking up before my whole little world, and ticking off a to-do list. This is the thirties, I remind myself, this is about chasing a to-do list and ticking things off no matter how loud everything around me gets.
A few days ago, another man joined the old man in the park, both with their Peet’s mugs. I overheard their discussion on pandemic hopes- about the basics, fresh air, ready to go freshly brewed coffee, and a free country where they could meet friends without hiding in masks. I nod in my thoughts.
There are a lot of discussions in my neighborhood about the current affairs. This is an educated neighborhood, yet I shockingly read opinions on scamdemic/plandemic, political statements during a time when empathy, rational thinking, and compassion can solve problems sooner than the vaccines. I hear and learn opinions about the freedom in not wearing masks, pandemic being a hoax. And then I see the rising number of hospitalizations, deaths. So shocking in an orderly, civilized, educated part of the world.
Pandemic has changed my perspectives on finer things. Like how little we need from the outside to live happily. How homemade food never caused us a single sick day. How science can be the only answer to almost everything. How my strength is not about making muscles and flaunting them, but sitting in a hospital multiple times in silence and solitude knowing nothing bad will ever happen if I rationally live and follow rules.
Yet how I know no matter where the technology progresses, human contacts, human emotions will be more powerful than the screen time. And science is not bigger than conscience.
Wear that mask, save someone’s life.
Read guidelines and believe in science.
Wash hands, and nurture patience.
A simple life can be a routine.
This morning, the old man is not there. And the birds are mysteriously absent too. Cooler air from the north makes me remember the end of July. A lady with her dog looks at me at the crosswalk, and her eyes smile. In our silence, we both know what she means. In that early morning breeze, before the shut windows and doors of my neighborhood, so many new lives are blooming with hope of future. The normal days will be back.
For now wear a mask and a smile.