And Yet I Smile

By Humberto Venancio

 

We are living in an era when people most need to come together and yet are tragically unable to in the most literal sense. The challenges thrust upon us because of this pandemic are certainly difficult to say the least, but this world has its consolations. Something my family has done in this time of quarantine is go outside for walks in the neighborhood. Once the sun relinquishes its greatest heat we embark on quaint and jovial adventures in the land of suburbia. These walks haven’t been particularly eventful–oftentimes the only interesting moments are when my sister and I bump each other off the concrete in our ever playful sibling-ness or whenever either of us or a passing individual, couple, or family swerve to the side in order to keep those six feet of distance. But nonetheless, they provide a much needed literal breath of fresh air in the sometimes repetitive and day-to-day of the home life.

As much as I’ve enjoyed these excursions, the reality is many of my responsibilities have kept me sequestered in front of a computer screen. In fact, there have been several instances when I would simply tire of staring at one for hours on end and find myself in the backyard before I even fully comprehend why. I’ve spent time just sitting on the swinging bench on our porch or the stairs descending into the lawn. Doing so really gives me the chance to take in my surroundings, collect myself, and do what I forget to do most often.

Breathe. Just breathe.

But finishing final papers is so stressful with all the distractions around me.

Look at the cardinal. See its crimson feathers shimmer. Not a care in the world.

I can’t help but feel lonely with all my friends miles away. 

Pet your dog. Look at her as she breathes in tranquility, simply satisfied in your presence.

I worry about my family and friends I’ve lost contact with. I hope they’re okay.

Feel the breeze. Let the verdant wind flow through your unkempt hair.

What about all of the divisiveness over this? I feel mute in this cacophony.

Take in the abundance of life around you. A harmony everlasting, no matter what.

I feel like something is coming to an end. Like nothing will ever be the same.

See the sun set. It’s beautiful glow fades, but a new dawn is coming soon.

It all just feels so bleak. People are dying…and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Look up. The moon is right there. The night is dark, but celestial light remains.

What if my family gets sick? What if we’re still exposing ourselves? I want to scream!

Breathe. Just breathe.

We seem to be caught in a constant downward spiral of conflict and decay when we stare too long, but in fact this time has instead been a truly awe inspiring showcase of solidarity among mankind. When we become drenched in the deluge of bad news, we forget about the good. Children are doing chalk art for delivery men, there are entire caravans assembling for birthday and graduation celebrations, friends and families are finding creative and innovative ways to foster relationships, and there are essential workers and healthcare professionals risking their lives each day for the betterment of humankind. When our neighbors move around us on our walks, it’s not simply out of fear. It’s out of respect and care.

We may not agree on everything, but at the end of the day we see the same sunset and stand under the same moon.  Despite it all, rivers still flow, songbirds still take flight, and the sun never stops shining beyond those clouds. The Earth has been rotating around the sun so long that our entire human history is hardly visible on its ever-growing timeline. Our world and nature as a whole provide a breathtaking and incomprehensible example of resilience. This night too shall pass and someday soon, we will leave our homes and bask in the sunrise together. I am so excited to see you then.