Today, for the first time in three days, I was alone. Sitting in Zilker Park, this bright green haven amid the buzzing city of Austin, I was quietly visited by feelings of warm, soul-soothing contentment. This feeling, among other things, is hard to come by these days. I sat on the crest of the Zilker hill, enjoying the ambient breeze and the barks of dogs coyly intermingling with the chirps of birds, cries of the city, and tender murmurs of the people.
It is nice, in times like these, to have an hour or two like this. Where life feels okay, even for one isolated minute. Where the sun occasionally peeks out of the clouds and reminds you of its ineluctability, encouraging a tomorrow. It felt so good to feel those ever-evasive rays of sun — the kind that warms your whole body in an instant, the beams reminding you how powerful the sun's gaze can be when focused on our feeble bodies.
The park was full, less than usual, but full nonetheless, with kids running and throwing frisbees, dogs chasing balls and each other, and people laying on blankets. Some of the people were alone, most had company — but were all enjoying the pleasures of the same day in the same park. Eventually, the consistent winds fended off the heavy cloud cover, and as they separated, angular patches of blue sky revealed themselves to everyone in the park. It was glorious. As I packed up to leave, a child began to navigate the air with a triangular kite attached to a streaming rainbow tail. A nice touch to a nice afternoon.
As I drove home, I was struck with a thought that seemed to perch on my shoulders and hover over me until I began to write. I thought about the way being at the park made me feel, separated from everyone by at least 10 feet, but still feeling the collective energy of a community. I have seen a spark of this same energy in my neighborhood, in noticing how active it has seemed recently. In lieu of the same token elderly couples and young mothers making their rounds of the neighborhood, there are now people of all ages taking dogs on walks, playing football in the street, exercising in front yards and taking time to truly interact with one another from one front porch to the next.
The way our neighborhood seems to be blooming in this time of quarantine reminds me of the feeling I experienced at the park, the comfort found in knowing that people will find a way. While there are countless aspects of quarantine that appear less than desirable, I think it is also giving humanity an amazing opportunity to reconnect with one another.
I can't be the only one who has noticed that recently people seem a little nicer, the trees seem a little greener, and the world seems to be breathing out a deep sigh of relief. While the earth is catching its breath, it seems like an excellent opportunity for us humans to remember the unifying factors that make us one great humanity, the threads sewn into all of our lives that we often take for granted: family, relationships, interaction, freedom, mobility.
These uncertain times and orders of quarantines are bringing these threads to the forefront of our minds for a reason.
The universe is allowing us to remember who we are, to slow down to reevaluate what is important to us, and to deepen our relationships with each other.
So while I, more than anyone, can understand how suffocating quarantine can be, I think we can do our best to see it as a window into a future where we have reclaimed what it means to be one great, interconnected humanity, and that is something I cannot wait to see.