Monday, 6th April 2020
Will this be my turning point?
A reflection by Lucia Ribeiro Kappauf
For five weeks now, I’ve been living in a small cottage near Monchique. The marks left by the latest fire are still clearly visible. For me, living here means having little contact with the outside world. It means falling asleep at night to the croaking of mating frogs and waking up when the cock crows. My electricity is generated by the sun, and my water comes from a spring. It’s a completely new world for a young city girl like me. Would you like to know how I ended up here? I’m doing a month’s internship at ECO123. At least, that was my aim. My intention is to learn how to write newspaper articles and to gain some work experience in this area. But I also want to be in touch with the elements of this planet of ours – with earth, water, air and fire – and to plant trees, as well. My internship was supposed to end on 31 March, but today it’s already 3 April. Was 17 March the day that trapped me here?
On Monday 17 March, the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, decreed a state of emergency, a measure designed to reduce the danger of people becoming infected with the Covid-19 virus. Without being directly involved, I’m experiencing the various processes that ECO123 is passing through during the pandemic. It’s April 2020, but the way we measure time has changed completely. Even the laws governing our movements in the space around us have changed, and, with these new measures, one of the most fundamental rights in our society has disappeared: the right to free movement. Almost everything has stopped.
And what happens to us journalists when we’re no longer driven by our impulses and our stress? What is our specific task and duty? For me, these times when everything is reduced to its bare essentials gives me the chance to explore the roots of our structures. What will we be left with after a crisis like this? Will there be a transformation or will the cycle continue as before?
Nature. The peach trees are already in blossom, while the walnut trees are biding their time. But they too will be flowering in due course. And perhaps, this spring, the time has come for us to wake up in harmony with Nature. Time to wake up from the illusion that owning property and having things arouses in us – forever wanting more, and faster and faster. And time to rediscover our Being. It’s in our Being that we find awareness, solidarity and a sense of balance with Nature. It’s in our Being that we find what we are in reality. The time has come to activate our senses and increase our awareness of how lost we are as we try to make our way across this burned land. Humankind has chosen the wrong path, and now we have the chance to go back and start again.
We can set off along a greener, brighter and more vibrant path. For my own part, I don’t yet know how or when I’ll be leaving here. Will I have to walk back to Germany on foot? My time here was coming to an end, but I decided to extend my internship. Everything in my life was planned, and the new semester at college had already begun. I’m still trying to hold on to that future that now belongs to the past. I’ll have to learn to break free and reinvent myself. Reorient myself. Just as I am now reorienting myself in every aspect, in doing the housework, in my relations with others, at work, in managing my life.
People have to reorient themselves in order to rediscover themselves. To move from “having” to “being”. I’m trying to transform my fears about the future into selfconfidence and a sense of being alive. Spring has come, and I’m not hibernating anymore: I’m summoning up new strength, for the new era that is beginning right now. The elements necessary for life are here. We can make this transition. We must move away from monocultures and towards a diverse, supportive and sustainable society. But that calls for an investment on our part, commitment and hard work.
We have to pull up the weeds, root out the invasive trees and set the earth free again. Am I ready?