Well, so, here we are; that time of year when the sun crosses the celestial equator and those of us in the northern hemisphere begin tilting toward the sun.
Thanks to some super smart, left-brained people, we know the Vernal Equinox occurred on March 19 this year, the earliest occurrence in 124 years.
Typically, in the days and weeks following this official launch into spring, the general population is filled with extra endorphins from the warm sun shining upon our faces. Then we pour out into streets and festivals and restaurants and theatres and campuses smiling, laughing, hugging, kissing, throwing frisbees, and maybe even playing guitar with the thrill of new beginnings in the air.
This is not the typical beginning of spring
Instead, filled with concerns and the unknown we are all hunkering down.
Rightfully so, we’re canceling concerts and plays, flea markets, sporting events, fundraisers, parties and vacations. We’re switching to online classes and meetings in a collective effort to “flatten” the Coronavirus curve.
(Feeling the sunshine on your face, smiling, laughing, and playing the guitar as long as it’s your own are still highly encouraged, of course.)
I’ll be honest. Early on, as I watched and listened to the news of the virus hitting closer and closer to my home state of Minnesota, my first thoughts weren’t exactly global:
My first thoughts on hearing of this virus were not global
They were more along these lines:
Oh crap, are we going to have to cancel our spring break trip? (Yep. We did.)
Are we going to be able to get a refund? (Still working on it.)
I sure hope they don’t shut down my daughter’s college campus. She loves it there. (Sigh . . . in-person classes are now canceled. She’ll be packing her bags soon.)
If they close the middle school and high school, too, I’ll never get anything done. (Here we go. They just made the big announcement five minutes after I wrote that sentence.)
My husband works in an Emergency Room. Is he going to be required to work even more than he already does? (TBD)
Just my luck, this is all happening right before the release of my new book. Will I need to cancel my launch event? (Yes, I will.)
But eventually, as I strive to do in my daily life with or without COVID-19, I remembered the world does not revolve around me.
It revolves around the sun.
And while revolving around the sun, it carries you, me, and more than 7.5 billion other people. And each one of those people has potential losses, disappointments, and hardships. And I’m pretty positive that most of theirs are far greater than mine.
To be certain, though, COVID-19 is no match for the Vernal Equinox.
Winter-whites will still be swapped for dark greens.
Harsh winds will still be swapped for gentle, warm breezes tousling through our hair.
Birds will still fill the sky with their songs.
Yellow and purple wildflowers will still rise from the earth.
COVID-19 is no match for a vigilant population
COVID-19 is also no match for a general population that stays vigilant and steps up for the greater good.
And there is evidence of individuals stepping up all over the place:
They’re checking on elderly neighbors and texting, calling, and FaceTiming friends and family to let them know they’re thinking about them.
They’re offering their surpluses and services to those who might lose their jobs, see their hours cut back, or need to find new childcare.
They’re donating to local food shelves.
They’re contributing to local arts organizations that are in financial danger due to canceled exhibits and performances.
They’re supporting neighborhood restaurants by ordering gift cards.
They’re making good use of what’s already in the freezer vs. running out to grab more.
They’re purchasing only what they truly need and leaving those last few packages of toilet paper or boneless chicken breasts for the next person who may not be able to run around to different stores. (Clearly, though, we need a little work on this particular point.)
A friend of mine has started posting on social media her small but daily online purchase, such as a bracelet, from favorite local shops that are experiencing a slump in sales.
And to top it all off, today, my 14-year-old, feeling a little cooped up, put down her iPhone and asked me to play ping-pong, and my 16-year-old son offered to walk the dog!!!
If each one of these examples is not proof that the general population is tilting toward the sun, then I don’t know what is.
While writing this post, I received a text from my friend Betsy that included an incredible reflection written by a woman I do not know. Her name is Gurpreet K. Gill. In a part of that reflection, Gill asks:
“What if . . .
the virus is here to help us?
To reset. To remember.
What is truly important . . .
Hmmm. Quite a perspective. What if?
More to Read:
Minnesota native Julie Jo Severson grew up dreaming of working in a newsroom like Mary on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. These days she’s a freelance journalist and editor living in a Minneapolis suburb with her husband and three teens. With a longtime passion for preserving life’s rich and whimsical stories before they fade away, Severson launched the blog Carvings on a Desk, cocurated the anthology Here in the Middle, and works with individuals to record their personal histories for future generations.