Culture

The Virus: Contemplations from my balcony

March 29, 2020. I am sitting on the balcony of my apartment in central Copenhagen. The sun is kind today and provides me with some much needed sun-ray therapy. We all know that natural light is crucial for our health so I treasure every second of it. Preparing my body for war. God forbid it will ever come to that point.

He who has overcome his fears will truly be free

Aristotle

Spring is early this year and nature is bursting back into life right before my eyes. If you didn’t know there was a deadly virus lurking, if you didn’t read the harrowing reports of people being infected and hospitalized and rushed to ICU’s, you’d think it is a perfectly normal day. Nature doesn’t care about the virus. It’s full of optimism and welcomes the sun; it’s going to be another great summer season.

Above me, under the roof of the apartment, magpies are building a nest. Like last year. What a contrast with a world in despair.

It’s comforting to see that nature doesn’t inherit our fears. That it is in a natural flow, that it is business as usual. I hear the sound of the wind whispering through the trees. It’s like they heave a sigh of relief: ‘Finally we can breathe again’. That’s my mind playing a trick on me, but it’s ironic. While many people are struggling to breathe these days, nature can take a long deep breath because we lock ourselves in.

Shouldn’t this be a lesson? We humans feel the need to separate ourselves from what defines nature, which is a useful social construct maybe. You have nature and you have humans, our creations and our technology. But it’s only a hair’s breadth from believing we actually transcend nature, are free from it and that we can use it to further our cause.

But these times make perfectly clear we do not transcend nature, that we aren’t free from it.

People want to be in control. We want to be healthy and live forever, chase our dreams and desires. But if we desire something so desperately that fear of not having or losing it makes us curl up in fetal position then we’re not free either. Letting go, accepting that life is fragile and that we will lose it, is maybe the best thing we can do for ourselves during these times.

Then we will be free. No virus can change that.

But in these times of self-isolation and social distancing, we are really fortunate to have Somnium Space, a VR world where geographical and social distance are irrelevant. A world that doesn’t stop, but thrives and gives people the freedom to come together, make new friends and share experiences. Including experiences from the real world. A real world that is in turmoil.

I look up. Last year I would have chased the magpies away. No nest-building under my roof. But this year I let them do what their instinct tells them to do. What an awesome and comforting sight it is.

See you in Somnium!

(For example, check out the daily VR Meetups to discuss the news, stay informed about the virus and explore this amazing VR world).

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