Humans. Being.

In my work life, I am primarily a writer. For almost seven years I’ve written on behalf of the Whidbey Institute, where my colleagues and I string words together to convey the meaning of what we do here—connecting with Earth, and with one another, to grow our collective capacity to live with generative mutuality in an increasingly complex society on an increasingly impacted planet.

That’s a mouthful, and it’s the kind of writing that feels wrong for this moment. Today, my heart is holding to one-syllable words. Food. Home. Health. Rest. Books. Love. Friends. We can take none of these for granted.

In this collective experience with COVID-19 and its ripples of impact, we are fortunate to be interconnected. There have been so many wonderful stories of neighbors helping neighbors, communities rallying around artists and gig workers, and museums, concert halls, and educational institutions throwing their doors open to digital visitors, free of charge. There are so many tools for being remotely connected, and so many incredible books, films, and podcasts to entertain and inform us in this time. Greater minds than mine are hard at work compiling resources to connect us to real data and crowdsourced wisdom, and the best information out there is telling us to JUST. STAY. HOME. So here I sit at a desk in my living room, looking at a collage I made a year ago when I made a new year’s commitment to S.H.I.N.E.: Solvency. Health. Integrity. Nature-connection. Engagement. In this moment, when so much has changed, these guiding concepts still feel important.

I spoke with my colleagues Heather and Marta this morning, and shared my experience with writer’s block. What is there to write that hasn’t already been written? We’re all in this together. This moment is unlike any moment we’ve lived through. There is hope. There is danger. There is beauty. There is grief. There is no knowing exactly what will happen next.

Heather reflected on how much we didn’t know just ten days ago, when we shared a cautiously optimistic message about our operations in light of COVID-19. “We are part of a larger unfolding,” she said. “This is requiring us to submit—and, in that submission, to let go of all the scripts and be in the unknowing.”

“That feels like the heart of what we do,” Marta said. “This is transformational learning. Can we be in the chaos, in the loss and the hope? And if we don’t know the answers but we move through the unknown together, with care and integrity, isn’t that a beautiful thing?” It is a beautiful thing, indeed.

—Marnie Jackson

March 23, 2020