Coronation

Every Friday, Atmos editor-in-chief William Defebaugh reflects on the week in climate and culture, sharing stories of insight and inspiration.

words by william defebaugh

photograph by Luc Viatour

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In a number of traditions, the crown of the head represents our higher thinking—where we understand our connection to life and the larger picture. The crown symbolizes our capacity to transcend dualistic thought.

 

Duality is an inherent part of our reality. In order for one thing to really be known, its opposite must be experienced. It takes illness to appreciate good health, just as it takes isolation to appreciate connectivity. It takes imbalance to appreciate balance.

 

Most of us reading this letter can probably agree that, as a collective, we have been living out of balance for some time now in regards to how we are using the planet’s resources. But as trend forecaster Li Edelkoort brilliantly illuminated, coronavirus has forced us into a “quarantine of consumption,” where we might just learn to be happy with what we have.

 

And in this moment of collective stillness, we are seeing nature start to flourish once more. Air pollution and CO2 levels are in rapid decline, visible even from space. Researchers in New York are seeing car emissions fall as much as 50% from last year. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said NASA researcher Fei Liu.

 

Now, this is not to ignore the suffering that coronavirus has brought upon our world. For as much as it has united many of us, there are those who are using it as an excuse to further xenophobic ideologies, such as President Trump who called it “the Chinese virus” earlier this week. The world economy is also preparing to take a massive hit, and the death toll continues to climb.

 

In order to transcend duality, we must know it first. We must welcome the light with the dark—just as nature does every equinox, when day and night are equal—and understand that they are part of a balance that connects us all.

 

Corona is the scientific name for the aura of plasma around the sun, most clearly seen during an eclipse. In Latin, it means “crown.” Perhaps nature is reclaiming her crown—perhaps we are, too. Like kings or queens that see themselves as separate from the kingdom over which they preside, perhaps we forgot ourselves. Perhaps we needed a reminder. Perhaps this is it.

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