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  • gera clark

Covid 19- Impacting our lives and spirit

I arrived home from the beautiful Galapagos Islands after a free and easy birthday spent snorkeling with the amazing wildlife and hiking amongst the diverse flora and fauna of the island. As I roamed amongst the huge Galapagos tortoises, I was struck with the thought of how obvious the principles that the

Origin of the Species set forth were alive and well here. Unfortunately, I was also saddened by man's impact on the flora and fauna in such a short space of time. Some species after existing for millions of years without our "help" had been wiped out completely. As I saw ever increasing expansion on the fragile eco system, I felt a pang of guilt myself and promised to try and do my best to lessen my footprint on these beautiful islands.

I was however very pleasantly surprised by the sound of nothing as I sat in my hammock while I watched the tortoises slowly walking by. No planes, no vehicles... just the breeze through the trees and birds singing as the butterflies fluttered by in a whisper. I thought to myself, "This is what it is like. This is how it should be!" My nerves felt restored while inhaling the pure oxygen given off by the highland forest. Passing through my nostrils the rich essence and heart of the island flowed through my blood and reached into those tense areas of my body that I didn't even know were so tight. As I played my flute in songs of gratitude to one tortoise who I had grown fond of where I stayed, I thought of all the terrifying experiences he and his ancestors had been through and how he had managed to survive and endure. I thought... he has been here well before me and will outlive me. I laughed. Then my thoughts wandered to some of the other islands I visited earlier. Some were quite barren but the iguanas had evolved to be marine iguanas that swam and feasted on algae in waters while the land iguanas also existed and relaxed and ate the odd cacti, sometimes just a stone's throw away. So survival of the fittest isn't always the rule. Survival of those who can ADAPT is the rule.

I came home and was working my RN job filled with the usual stressors when some news started to appear about a virus in China. I flew out the next week to the Grammy Awards with my husband since we are both musicians and we both enjoyed seeing old and new friends. As we sat in LAX, I noticed quite a few people wearing N95 masks while we waited to fly home. It was late January and the virus was not even anywhere near our door in NYC or California either for that matter. I thought they must be coming from China.


When I came home there now seemed to be a rapid outbreak in Italy as we joked at work about the tickets being $400 to Italy round trip. Flights were still going in and out in early March (to what degree we would find out much too late). I felt something was not right as I read the numbers growing at a rapid pace. Being at work I started to wonder- maybe we were next? The beginning of Lent was around the corner and then the "Holy Days" soon after when many fly to Italy. As I watched the numbers grow, I wondered how could we prevent it. As a nurse you wash your hands so many times a day, I probably get up and do it in my sleep. Several years back when I worked it the ICU I knew the requirements for PPE and it was a strict policy. Then, when the Ebola virus was breaking out in Africa, we thought it is so far away from us until a resident Doc checked into his hospital a block away from where I worked with full blown Ebola. The training to deal with Ebola was thorough and very extensive and hence the WHO instituted the asking of a plethora of questions concerning ones recent travel history. I immediately wondered why we were not having any such training for what appeared to be such a devastating disease, that was spreading like wildfire. As I was looking in our supply room, I saw where our masks had just started to slowly come out of their delivery boxes that day.They were not distributed and I would not receive a N95 mask until days after I had been exposed. It was when I was tested and it took forever to get results. At this time my place of business closed. It was an elective ambulatory place, and I self-quarantined myself with my husband for 14 days. No assistance was offered at that time, but I knew this disease would be dangerous for me with a history of asthma and also with my husband's age and heart issues . So we sat and waited and waited...finally I came back negative.

I was on Zoom one day and I noticed that people were in fear. They were stuck in their apartments. The had already been through 9/11. They had been through Super Storm Sandy. I saw that they weren't breathing. Fear was winning! Fear was taking us down!

What could I do? Then I remembered my Native American friend telling me "gather your medicine"...I looked around at my closet of herbs, my essential oils, stones and all I have learned and thought, "This is all great, but I am inside and can't see anyone." His last words were "It's getting to be time to bring out your medicine." In my apartment I burned some sage, cedar, and palo santo, was deep in thought when I suddenly saw my flutes! My many, many flutes that I have played through the years! Some were custom made for me. Flutes that I have played for friends, the ancestors, people, animals and the trees. Yes!... I will take them out and play again!

Today as I look out of my balcony, I am amazed how nature is healing itself without our help. The birds are flying and eating so much that the red robins are getting fat as we are.The barn swallows are doing their stealth flying, displaying below, their dazzling feats on the Silver Lake fresh from their Summer in Brazil. The trees are "Spring green" with vibrant color and the flowers are starting to grow so as to invite the honeybees back as well as to provide those perfect landing pads for the butterflies to come and feast. Soon, the butterflies will return from their way up from the South on their journey to the North. The hawks fly high and defend their territory against the crows, as the pigeons try to protect their urban ground. I look from my balcony to the southern tip of Manhattan where the view has changed many times. From two visibleTwin Towers turning to the smoking structures lying in the vast rubble on the ground, to rebirth of a large single Tower again and in the presence of The Statue of Liberty. The Lady who has stood tall through a century still serving as a beacon of hope to so many including my grandparents. Yes, I am a New Yorker...born and bred. I will wear my face mask and I will adhere to social distancing. In our we evolution, as a species I will adapt to the changing suggestions because those willing to abide by precautions seem to be able to sustain. It sometimes isn't about how strong you may think you are, but "Survival of the Species" is the protocol for now. Perhaps our eyes will open more to how man can sustain itself as a species on this beautiful blue planet called Earth.

So I say pause. As in the Galapagos...adapt to the changes and breathe... it's always changing anyway.


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