Updated: Jun 8
Can we find our butterfly wings?
After more than two months of almost total lockdown, we in Ireland are beginning to emerge from the severe restrictions and are taking our first tentative steps towards a new normality. With the knowledge that we need to tread carefully so that we don’t run the risk of encountering a second wave of the deadly coronavirus, we are testing the waters in many areas of society to see what the new normal will look like. While I have not been officially ‘cocooning’ it does still feel as though we are collectively emerging from a cocoon and trying to find our butterfly wings. With the fervent hope that we will not have to endure this situation again, I feel that it is an opportune moment to reflect on what has just gone and ask what lessons I have learned through this crisis.
When I think back to the beginning of coronavirus arrival in Ireland, I remember words such as uncertainty, fear, anxiety, chaos and panic being prevalent in the conversations of people I know and in the media. Phrases like ‘cocooning’ and ‘social distancing’ became part of our new vocabulary. Parents became separated from children, grandparents from their grandchildren. Those with ‘underlying health conditions’ were suddenly plunged into a place of unexpected anxiety. People were told to ‘stay home’, even though home was not a safe place for some. There were the dreaded daily briefings from the Department of Health telling us how many people had got the virus and the number who had sadly died. Relatives could not sit with their loved ones or hold their hand on their last days on this earth; only a chosen few could attend funerals. Frontline workers were clapped and praised as they courageously went into battle with the virus every day, often leaving anxious spouses, parents or children at home. Many succumbed to the virus, most of them beating it but some, sadly, unable to win that last battle. Most of us stayed at home and were told we were doing the right thing, helping in the fight against the virus by not spreading it any further. Gradually, as the days turned into weeks, the sun came out, the temperature rose, and our usually cloudy skies turned blue. The dawn chorus was louder than ever, the trees seemed greener as they dressed for summer. We got into our gardens, played with our children, took family walks, talked, baked, painted, worked from home and began to accept the situation we were in knowing that it would take a common effort to beat this thing, despite the fact that at times we thought we were living through a horror movie.
Many things have changed. I have not seen my elderly mother, nor been in the same room as my daughter or granddaughter for months. Every day I look forward to that time when we can travel beyond 20 km and we can meet again. I have kept busy. I have had ‘Zoom’ calls with groups of friends, WhatsApp calls with others. I have listened to podcasts, learned some new photography skills, attended classes on topics of interest and taken a few photography challenges. I have watched videos on macro photography, close-up photography (and learned the difference!), on improving composition, even on landscape photography, and wished I could go somewhere different to take new photos. I have taken photos. I have captured some beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I have played around with shadows, reflections, and silhouettes, I have done some research and planned a future project.
The evening sun has given lots of opportunities to experiment with reflections
I feel truly fortunate that those closest to me have escaped this virus, and I hope that will continue to be the case. But we can’t stay locked up forever in our homes and gardens. We must be careful, but we have to emerge and embrace the new uncertainties. We must protect ourselves and each other. We must protect loved ones and those we casually meet. But we have to live, to love, to come together again as humans, to face our new reality. Never were the words of W.B Yeats, although written for a different context, more relevant than they are today:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born
What have I learned from the crisis?
I have come to realise that we are powerless over so much. I have a new understanding of living one day at a time. I have learned to slow down, to stay calm and to appreciate those who are making tough decisions for us all. I have learned not to speak unless I have all the facts, because there is so much I don’t know. I realise how much we depend on one another and the importance of reaching out to others, even if it has to be by phone or social media. I have discovered how much I have taken for granted and know that those are the very things I truly wish for today; time with friends and family, meeting someone for a cup of coffee, a summer outing, driving in the countryside with my camera and stopping off whenever I see a photo opportunity, moving around without fear. I hope these simple pleasures will return soon.
Travelling around the country and stopping off at interesting locations is something I have enjoyed and I look forward to returning to this simple pleasure.
Reading my blogpost from last year entitled Travel photography without too much travel https://www.wildwillowways.com/post/travel-photography-without-too-much-travel gives me some inspiration and hope that normal times will return. We may not be able to travel abroad for a while but we do have a beautiful country to explore! Just take your camera or smartphone and go look for a beautiful image to capture.