All this week on my drive to work, I reveled as the dry, matted grass and stubbled corn fields turned a vibrant green. Trees started to bud, daffodils burst into bloom, and birds trilled in the trees.
By the end of the week, the cherry trees in front of my apartment were in full bloom. And yet, something else was registering on my drive to work. Something I hardly ever noticed for more than a millisecond.
It was the animals. Not one or two. But maybe even a dozen. I started counting along the 45-mile stretch of highway through my mid-sized city, along the suburban 4-lane thoroughfare heading north, and leading to 2-lane country roads traversing farms and fields. Chipmunks, raccoons, possums, and even a deer. Guess how many I counted?
Twenty-one on the way to work. Deciding that couldn’t be right, I counted on the return trip.
How many times had they passed in and out of my awareness for a second or two, barely registering? Or if they had registered, when they sped out of my range of vision, they disappeared from my thoughts, forgotten in a blink of an eye. It made me wonder what else I was not seeing. What else were my eyes glossing over?
In the rush from here to there, in the rush to fulfill the demands of the day, I have become de-sensitized. So have we all. It’s a fact of life. We do not have enough time or emotional energy to register all the suffering, pain, and death we are exposed to on a daily basis. It surrounds us like a wall of sound– on the news, on the web. It is simply impossible to feel that much and that deeply. But in this reality, there is a danger too of simply losing our humanity, the connection to other living creatures and even our deepest selves.
In the news this week, we learned of other atrocities, committed overseas and closer to home. Although our minds turn to the victims and dwell on the pain of their families, I also wonder about the environment (psychic, emotional, familial) that turns “ordinary” people into weapons of mass destruction, of the wrong turns they make, allowing them to justify the death of innocent people.
This is a time of metamorphosis–in nature, in the seasons, in our personal lives, and in the greater world. So, for a moment, I am taking the time to pause and remember the risks of rushing headlong to our destinations, without thought, without feeling. And the risks of forgetting our connection to all living things and how our lives are wonderfully, beautifully connected and intertwined in a delicate web.