I have stood many times on the red rock by the river, deep in the winter shadows. The sun never touches the base of this Priorat valley during the shortest days of the year. It can be unnervingly quiet down there, but for the pulse of nature.
The horrible truth is the human innate ability to attune senses to that pulse has almost been lost.
I might be there to breathe, to fathom, to be with my family away from stuff and nonsense, or to meditatively, gratefully, stuff my pockets with fir cones and twigs. They are free and plentiful. We use them to light the two wood-burners that warm our farmhouse.
The riverbanks again bear the scars of a recent surge that has moved rocks and wrapped uprooted vegetation high around the waists of the trees strong enough to hold on. The multitude of tan and green cane stalks are splayed in all directions. It is raining hard again right now. The random force of nature will once more reap and remind.
What of this year? It has taken its toll, the darkest year of reckoning during my privileged lifetime. That degree of privilege, my relative security during sixty years on a stable continent, distanced by decades or many kilometres from horror stories, heightens the uncertainty of now. I have no real idea and never had of how desperate and dark life can be. No famine, no war, no earthquakes. Do you?
So I stand on the rock and ask myself - will the pandemic be a catalyst for human re-evaluation? Will it, in tandem with other, stark fundamental facts of life and death, give worth to this unnerving time as a watershed?
Watershed. Noun. Cambridge dictionary definition - an event or period that is important because it represents a big change in what or how people do or think about something.
Pre-Covid it was becoming nigh impossible to manage the noise, the incessant bombardment of information and misinformation, the fudging of the lines between fact and fiction. I firmly believe we were becoming numb. The duvet over the head was preferable to trying to take any of it to heart, or head.
So, is this a watershed? Are we all in this together and will learn from it? Will we really start to question and change? Or as we emerge in 2021 will it be business as usual, the world that was?
You may well be asking where, suddenly, all the money is coming from? And – hang on a minute - how is it possible that the 2000+ dollar billionaires have grown considerably wealthier during the pandemic?
We really need to take ourselves to task on so many levels. Here’s a random one: What sane species would have as one of its key economic drivers - $100 billion annually and rising – the manufacture of armaments, the means to kill one another?
But back to the pulse that I can barely feel. The real world is populated by so many more beings than us humans, living things that have so much to teach, are so deserving of our care and respect and on whom, ultimately, our collective survival depends.
How on Earth do we stop species loss? We are heading headlong for the sixth mass extinction on this planet and are wholly responsible.
At the most conservative estimates, during the months we have been living through the trauma of pandemic, more than 10,000 other species have died out.
Yet science shows us, once again, what we are capable of when we put our minds to it. That needs to encompass our hearts too.
So feel your pulse. You are alive and can stand up. Be active. May 2021 bring positives, love for all life and rapid, fundamental, sustaining protections and change.