Another beautiful autumn day. I start as usual with salutes to the sunrise, breakfast with news on the radio, 9 am meditation and writing. I'm leaving the radio off more than I usually would, although I admire the dedication of our national presenters who are working in home studios and keeping us informed. A top-up of the news now and then is enough as I don't want to feel panicked and stressed. I miss the wide-ranging interviews on topics other than the virus and I'm glad when I do tune in that a few of those are coming back. Jesse Mulligan's hour of dance music requests provides light relief while I weed the garden, especially funny when someone texts in to point out the tunes are a songsheet of gay anthems.
Out of the news come some interesting items which show how this is not a mere blip on the way back to business as usual. One is that Air New Zealand will need to lose a third of their staff and have a greatly reduced service, because once travel resumes the demand will be much lower. The new CEO is leading an organisation which thought its worst threat was from flight-shaming millennials who would travel less, giving the airline five years or so to adjust. But the virus has done what the shaming couldn't - within a month travel has all but ceased and the airline is running a mainly freight service with a skeleton crew. There are personal implications, for my own family relatives who could be made redundant, and for me because I so want to visit my children and grandchildren again soon but may not be able to.
The other headline which caught my attention was 'Pope supports UN call for ceasefire to combat coronavirus'. Perhaps not too unusual that the UN is calling for an end to war but the Catholic Church is not known for its pacificism (eg the Crusades, blessing the A-bomb, the abhorrent concept of the 'just war'). In the small print, did I see that Russia also agrees? Really? I don't know whether to be pleased that a ceasefire is a possibility or furious that it could be as easy as: 'People are getting sick. Oh, right, let's stop bombing and starving them.' War is the greatest contributor to displaced people, toxic emissions and poverty, it does huge harm to the environment and causes trauma that goes down the generations. Whatever happens next, if even a reduction in war is an outcome, it's a win. Keep praying for it, Pope Francis, you've got a lot to make up for.
There are many calls for this to be a turning point and for the new normal to be something more humane, more just, kinder to each other and the environment. I keep hoping.
Meantime, in this lovely weather my life goes on very peacefully. I spend a good hour weeding a section of the garden, then go out for a walk along the river. People step aside where the path narrows and sometimes smile, but sometimes also look grim. A man with an American accent stands a little too close while he asks about the significance of the teddy bears in windows. 'For the children,' I say, 'to give them something to look for when they come out.' While I wait for a few cyclists to pass I watch a group of shags diving under the bridge in a flurry of circles. They have some bounty there that excites them. The tide's in and the river high and shining.
My daughter reads her poem on Jesse's programme and later shares a thoughtful and positive review of her book in a respected journal. She is having 'poet moments' in these strange times. This is what we need: beauty, creativity, people who can take our experiences and give them back to us made wonderful.