Thriving on Kindness
Updated: Apr 8, 2020
It was April of last year when I decided to try my hand at gardening. I had inherited some flower boxes upon moving into my new residence at the Ashram, and was determined to do them more justice than their previous caretaker had. I wasn’t long into the planting process when I realized that I had no idea what I was doing. My trepidation was only exacerbated by the learning that it was late in the season to be planting. With an already defeated heart I turned to our garden manager for advice. She explained how to plant the seeds and told me not to worry so much. “The seed wants to grow.” she said, “It’s the only thing it exists to do. So if you can give it even some of the conditions to support in doing that, it will find a way to thrive.”
Those words have stuck with me ever since. Nature wants to thrive. And no matter what, if it can, it will find a way to do just that.
In the face of these times of uncertainty we have stepped into, humanity has been given no choice but to put itself on pause. A global pandemic has taken the world by storm, forcing us to retreat to our homes and take a hiatus from the often over-indulgent “business as usual” lifestyles that were rapidly propelling us towards climate disaster.
What has already happened to the natural world in this brief time is truly remarkable.
Greenhouse gas emissions have reduced drastically since air travel and industrial action has been restricted. Dolphins and Swans have returned to the now-pristine Venice Canals for the first time in over 60 years. Animals are beginning to take over towns and sea turtles on the verge of extinction have been hatching successfully in droves now that there is no human activity impeding them on beaches.
In looking at all of this rapid regeneration of the natural world, I have been reminded of our wise garden managers words; If it can, nature will always find a way to thrive.
My amazement at the resilience of nature hasn’t stopped beyond our human communities though. Time and time again in these past few weeks I have been touched by videos of neighbors who have likely never spoken before, singing to each other from balconies and windows. I have smiled at the innovation of pop-up online communities offering art classes, music lessons and support for parents trying to take care of their children while working from home. I have shed a tear at whole cities and even countries coming together to cheer on their health care workers. And need I mention the memes? I could go on and on (but I won't, everyone has Tiger King to get back to...)
We are constantly finding new, creative ways to fulfill the need for human connection that is inherent to our nature, despite the circumstances keeping us physically apart. We are finding ways to support one another and take care of our most vulnerable. Despite everything, we are finding a way to thrive.
Although many have also taken actions driven by fear and selfishness, far more of us have begun to function from a place of generosity and kindness. Because most of us recognize the strength in supporting one another, in taking care of each other. We recognize that ultimately we are one human family, intimately interconnected with each other and the nature all around us. In order for one of us to thrive, we all must thrive.
For too long, we have lived in denial of this fact. In denial of our interdependence. The ever-growing chasm between the wealthiest one percent and society's most vulnerable members is a testament to that. As are our struggling public healthcare and education systems. Not to mention the continuously skyrocketing basic price of living, a standard so many of us are spending all of our energy fighting to meet.
Now, more than ever, the inequities our social and economic systems perpetuate are glaringly obvious. But arguably, most upsetting of all is the apathy we often seem to feel towards each others suffering. Perhaps the byproduct of a system that prospers by pitting us against one another, having us believe that surviving in this world has to be a case of each person for themselves.
But what if we wrote a different story?
This crisis could be an opportunity for us to reassess the way we have been living. The catalyst our children and grandchildren will talk about as the turning point for humanity. The moment we collectively decided, as one human family, to step into a New World. A better world.
A world built on a foundation of synergistic integrity. A foundation of compassion and equity. A world that not only honors our interdependence, but recognizes it for the superpower - the miracle - that it is.
What a damn fine world that could be.
For the record, the flowers I planted did bloom. A little late in the season, but it only made their grand appearance that much more spectacular. When I told our garden manager she wasn’t in the least surprised. After all, she always knew that they would find their way.
So what of us? Will this be the moment in history where we find our way? Where we write the tale of how we truly began to thrive?
The choice is ours.
I know which story I would like to tell.