One of my journal entries from last week began as follows: “Good morning pages and world of water and wildlife from cabin 20. I am up and I slept well. The constant sound of the water rolling up onto the shoreline rocks, and then falling back into the lake, is a reminder of the tenacity of nature.”
Just beyond the bottom of the wooden stairway that leads up to our cabin is a smooth, sloping dark grey rockface that would be a perfect water slide into the lake. If only the water were 25 degrees warmer. Vibrant and securely attached to the shoreline is a stately pine tree. It seems to me it exited a painting to grace us with its presence. As though we needed proof of the famous artist’s works that were inspired in this park.
The inside of the cabin provides little definition from its surroundings. Instead, it is an extension of the forest and lake. The ceiling, walls, and floor a continuous palate of pine. The intermittent dark circular knots worthy of a game of shape–finding like one might do with the clouds. The knots on the wall next to the bed make a perfect Basset Hound face: elongated, droopy eyes and a generous mouth hanging below. The aged windows, loose in their frames, welcome the sounds from outside. The smell of pine needles and musty wood transport me to my childhood and our family cottage. Unplugged from the wired world, the sounds and memories of living in undisturbed nature play in my head.
We convene for dinner in a quaint log cabin. The fire is simmering in the main dining room. We are granted our own space in a smaller side room. The table neatly set for the six of us. It’s ours for the duration of our stay, to maintain our bubble and distance from other diners. Lest we forget the pandemic–which can happen, as we enjoy the privilege of a chef-prepared meal with masked servers watching over us. The threat is momentarily forgotten.
We discuss, gently, the tarnished history of our country’s treatment of its Indigenous people. None of which has touched us directly. We are sad, curious, angry perhaps, at the rage and disruption in our pristine and sleepy Maritime province. Talking of civil unrest over fishing rights is almost a welcome diversion from the daily details of the spiraling Covid cases.
It strikes me that our 21st-century pandemic bears all the characteristics of the plagues of the past. The only difference being that it is on display, to the world, and by the world, through a tsunami of media feeds. We know that the virus is it’s most lethal to the marginalized and elderly. Whether they are robbed of their health or their livelihood. Sadly, often both are lost.
So far, here in the midst of nature, we are immune. The gaps of disparity are widening. I am feeling a wave of shame for my experience of impervious well-being and abundance. I am struggling with the ego pull of materialism, of feathering my own nest, and the yearn to contribute to the well-being of all. I am struggling against the force of energy that is focused inward, which is self-serving and self-indulgent. I am struggling to redirect the energy that at times is tipped to wasteful consumerism.
This morning I am being reminded and then warned, of the tenacity of the virus. The measures we need to take to mitigate our risk of catching the disease, and the isolating way we need to live. These are no longer events. This is now a lifestyle. We are in the second, maybe third wave. Like the power of the ocean water, it now seems unimaginable that the waves will ever stop.
Synonyms for tenacity include determination, persistence, perseverance. Tenacity is defined as the quality or act of continuing to exist. In nature and within ourselves, it is a state of energy and hope. As it relates to disease, it’s a challenge and a threat.
And so I walk the line. Tenacious in my will to engage in my life, to be healthy, creative, active and connected. To not cross the threshold into a couch potato, internet surfer, and CNN junkie. To not indulge in the vision of the perfect sweater, shoes, cushion, bath towels, or rug. To stay on the side of generosity to others, supporting those struggling, and finding ways to contribute to our threatened human values and identity. To channel my tenacious energy for the greater good.
At least, that has been my experience.