Human nature in times of corona

Every once in a while I sit down and observe nature, inspired by Enos A. Mills. I look at what really is around me, doing my best to describe what I see, how I experience my surroundings. It’s relaxing and inspiring.

Life has changed, quite suddenly. Not just for me, but for pretty much the whole world. Today I’m not observing nature, but human nature. Sitting in a park I notice how people are struggling with the new rules that came into their lives only three weeks ago. It’s the easter weekend and today will again be a beautiful day. 

It’s only 9:30 in the morning and usually it’s not this busy, even on a day like this. Now besides the regular jogger I see people cycling, hiking, walking the dog and inline skating. Just like me they’re hoping to avoid the crowds of later in the day. In places where trafic joins, most people do their best to keep the meter and a half distance between each other. It surprises me that so many people have listened to the government and stick to the rules. I always thought that the Dutch don’t like to be told what to do.

I notice that people are now more aware of others around them. I’ve been disliking the society I was living in more and more. A society that ignores others around them. Each person in their own bubble. When I now thank someone for making space I often get a reply back. The times that I’ve said hello to someone in this area and I’m plainly ignored are impossible to keep track of. So yeah, I’m liking this slightly more friendly society.

Another “positive” effect of the smart lockdown we have here is that suddenly people are more appreciative of nature. I read that more people are interested in birds that live around their home. I completely understand why. Where I’m sitting right now is usually a very busy plane route. A plane taking off every three minutes makes so much noise that any animal sounds are drowned out. Now I’m hearing a highway in the distance, but in the foreground I’m hearing so many different birds. I’m hearing geese, ducks, blackbirds, sparrows, tits, woodpeckers and many others that I don’t recognize. Just listening to these incredible conversations makes my body and mind relax.

On TV and social media I’ve been surprised with images of animals suddenly roaming the streets. They dare to come out because we are staying inside. This is a topic I always feel conflicted about. I want animals to have enough peace and quiet so they can move around freely. But on the other hand I love to go out and enjoy nature. When I have the right to go into nature, so does everyone else. Obviously that leads to crowded places. If only I would be one of the lucky few to be allowed to travel deep into nature…..

I want to end my observation by mentioning that I’m really glad that I’m able to spend so much time outdoors, especially in times like these. I see people who live in the middle of a busy city, in a small apartment, with not much else but a small park closeby. A park that only offers enough safe space to a few.

Going into nature now really feels like a luxury good.

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