What if?

I woke up the morning of April 28 to find six inches of snow on the ground around me and more falling from the sky and by the start of April 29 there was over a foot of snow on the ground. Mother Nature has a weird sense of humour. I’m not sure I’m laughing, but it is a pretty sight and I’ve got nowhere to go.

As a side note, Gracie was quite accepting of the stalled seasons, happily rolling in the snow, her face more than joyous. Gracie, like me, has nowhere to go, no plans aside of snoozing on her over-sized Puppy Pillow, so a snowfall is a welcome distraction for her and perhaps for me. I looked out over the snow, the branches of the trees weighed down, the muffled silence that put Spring on the back burner. Though I was tempted to complain, the beauty of fresh snow really was stunning. In the Fall, fresh snow covers up all the jobs left undone from Summer. The snow hides the blemishes of life, hides the good intentions that got lost, hides the disappointments and missed opportunities. Though we are all trapped in some way by this virus, the snow reminded me of fresh starts, of moments of beauty, and glimpses of peace, and. . . it got me thinking.

I am reading Maria Papova’s Figuring. Maria writes of the evolution of science and how “our habits, beliefs, and ideas evolve beyond recognition” over the course of our lives. Think of the things we couldn’t imagine doing as a child, such as eating brussel sprouts or riding a bike. Maria writes of the Ship of Theseus, the story from ancient Greece where Theseus slayed the Minotaur (half bull / half man) and Theseus’ ship was honoured in the Athens harbour for a thousand years, a “living trophy” setting sail annually to re-enact the glorious battle. The ship’s parts were replaced over that thousand years as they deteriorated and rotted away so that over time, no original parts could be found on the ship. In that theme, most of our body’s cells are being replaced, we are continuously evolving, yet we remain as our name indicates. Further, in 1903, Kelvin spoke to the British Association of Science and declared “there is nothing new to be discovered in physics now”, as if discovery had gone as far as it could. You were wrong, Lord Kelvin.

We have been told there is little chance of saving the planet now in light of what we have done. I am thinking today about how things will look when this virus retreats. We are dealing with a situation which most of us are unfamiliar with: the necessity of social distancing, buying only that which we need rather than what we want, discovering that the globalization of manufacturing has left us in a precarious position. How will we find ourselves when the “new normal” begins. There will be no going back to business as usual, I dare to say. We have had a forced opportunity to examine how we do things and I can’t help wondering what we might have learned. And “what if” comes to life.
What if we have learned that to keep this country functioning in a healthy, respectful way, it requires collaborative government. What if instead of campaigning 365 days a year, politicians learn to share ideas and of course criticize where they see injustice, but not just for the sake of criticism and scoring points. What if the criticism came with suggestions as to how to do it better. What if negative campaigning went the way of the Dodo and instead, political parties had to provide a blueprint of “how” they would do things and rely on honesty and integrity. What if we discovered all what we “are” in this world, rather than what we “aren’t”. What if we were more concerned with the welfare of all our children rather than only the ones we can see.

What better time to imagine “what if” than when our world has become unrecognizable, when the opportunity to evolve is right in front of us, within reach.