Five months ago, when Manila was initially put under quarantine, I found myself waking up earlier than usual–around 5:30 am to 6 am–and being unable to go back to sleep (to read our first lockdown story, click here “When Time Stood Still”). I would start doing yoga in the quiet of the morning only to be brought out of my meditation by noisy chirping, intermittent squawks, or some loud birdcall.

As I looked for the sources of the sounds, I discovered that the quarantine had offered newfound peace and quiet to wandering birds, and they were making themselves at home in the trees in and behind our house. With everyone kept at home, everything closed, and all activities cancelled, Manila had fallen quiet, the skies over the city had cleared, and nature was flourishing.

But while nature had come to life around us, Ito and I would read the news and the toll on countless people  and communities was absolutely horrific! It was crazy–the loss and devastation was unprecedented and unrelenting, like nothing we had ever heard before in our lifetime and it left us feeling completely hopeless and helpless. The situation was, and continues to be, so dire that people were arguing that no one should celebrate the fact that nature was healing because there were so many people dying and falling ill.

While I felt as heartbroken as everyone else and understood that sentiment, I also realised that what most of us had forgotten was that we aren’t separate from nature…we are nature. We may believe that we are separate–from the natural world and from each other–but the truth is that what affects one aspect of life affects us all. When we turn a blind eye to the affects of climate change, or to the needs of underprivileged communities here or anywhere in the world, we don’t realise (or we didn’t until this pandemic) that the health and well-being of the world around us directly affect our health and well-being too. We are all interconnected.

This gave me a little wake up call because I realised that this interconnectedness worked both ways, and that what we did in any small way to help would have a ripple effect on the whole. However insurmountable the problems seemed, we could each respond in the way we knew best (from aiding the sick, to manning the grocery stores, to making PPE suits and masks, to preparing and delivering food, to providing shelter, to offering emotional support, to sharing our talents and teaching, to lifting each others’ spirits) and that, like nature’s own  system, everyone has a valuable contribution to make. We just have to open our eyes to our responsibility to each other and the world around us.

I know there are a mountain of problems that still face us, and that we all still have an incredibly loooooooong way to go in healing ourselves, but I believe the natural world is our ally and if we just take things one step at a time I feel we’ll get there. So I look to nature–Mother Nature and our own human nature–to remind us of our incredible capacity to work together, to heal, to regenerate, to transform (and yes, even to fly).

As we continue to stay home, I’ll keep sharing some of our home ‘adventures’, observations and realisations in the next blog post (click here to read “Chaos and Creativity”). Seeing where we are today, do you think I’m being too optimistic about the future? Where do you think things will be a year from now? I’d love to know 🙂

*Photos by Tippi & Ito Ocampo

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