I went for a long walk outside today (March 21, 2020). The city was dead – it really was dystopian. The usual bustle, laughter and air of happiness signalling the beginning of a weekend was replaced by somber grim faces of the few people who stepped outside their houses to battle the stuffiness that comes with staying indoors. The smell of the wind wasn’t one of sweat, food, dust, and occasional coolness, that comes with the onset of Spring on a beautiful Saturday March morning in NYC. The wind smelled of disease, frustration, sickness, and occasionally even death. The cause was COVID-19.
I planned on walking for half an hour and then getting home to write a book I’ve been working on. However, the rare quietness outside on the streets, along with listening to Sam Harris talk about the illusory self put me in a meditative state of mind, and my legs carried me to Central Park. I felt light, and was aware of my body sensations. I was reminded of my meditation camp in Delaware, where I did a 10-day silent sit in June 2019. I thought of how wonderful it would be to live in a city or area where I could walk out and find solace in nature, where my thoughts could be clear, where I could feel calm on my walks. I thought once again of leaving New York City, or at least the area in which I currently live. I loved the serenity of walking through a quiet road, although I wished for more happiness to be injected into the environment.
I found some happiness in Central Park. Dog-walkers, joggers, cyclists, babies, couples, birds, and pink trees. It struck me how happy the birds seemed to be; they were flying in a freer-er manner amidst fewer humans in the park. Unfazed by the suffering of humans worldwide, the trees swayed and displayed the full glow of their pink and yellow flowers. The sun’s radiation pierced through my sun and I thought of how sad it is be trapped indoors. Humans are deeply social and crave freedom. Both of these values are being taken away from us at a time like this. But humans are also very adaptable, and we will fight through this. We will overcome this, and emerge stronger.