Updated on April 12th, 2020

I’m not often awake before dawn, lifelong night owl that I am. But today, I woke at four in the night and couldn’t go back to sleep. Two hours later, I get up, exasperated. I pull up the shutters of my bedroom window. In the east, behind the black hills, the sky is beginning to faintly glow. It’s like a promise. The orange radiance reflects on the ponds of the park that lies dark and silent, awaiting the new day.

In the block of flats opposite, only two windows are lit – perhaps they’re mostly night owls, too? Or not having to get up quite so early for work in their home office, rather!

So I’m writing in the quiet darkness of my room, letting the light of this new day gradually touch me and fill me up… A new beginning.

After the orange glow comes a brightening. The orange pales, and a dull, white light starts filling the sky, pulling the earth out of its nightly shade.

Now I can read my handwritten notes on my desk. I’ve written them on the backs of the sheets of paper that hold my Organic Chemistry notes. Clean drawings I made of complex molecules and their mysterious ways of reacting, when I was a Biochemistry student at Zurich University – by hand, before the time of computers. The blue ink has kept its colour through the years, although the chemical formulae themselves have faded in my memory long ago.

At my mother’s home, in this lockdown, I have re-surfaced many years’ worth of lecture notes I took during my studies. Lab reports, too, and homework, exam papers, presentations, research papers. They’re tons of paper – it takes a while to qualify as a Biochemist!

And I’ve kept all these papers all this time…

I guess they’re a physical trace of my history, of a stage of my life, of something I’ve poured much love and energy into. Now that I’m ready to let them go, the sheets of paper will wander into recycling. But not until I’ve made full use of them by drafting on their backs what I’m writing about in this blog. That’s a kind of recycling, too…

The dull white sky keeps going, dull and white, for quite a while, as if the sun is undecided whether to rise or not. Or maybe its brilliance is so great that we see a pale preview of it, long before it actually arrives…

I’m now wondering if the real-world recycling ground is still open for business in these Corona Virus lockdown times. It might be.

But if it’s not, it will be, sometime in the future. It will be.

Because this health crisis will change us, as people, societies and nations. After we come through it, I can’t imagine us just snapping back into our old, polluting lifestyle again.

Surely, we will realise that we’ve come to enjoy the simpler, slower life we adopted during the Corona Virus crisis, and decide that we don’t need to work so much, and that we don’t need so much stuff, anyway.

Surely, we will realise how wonderful it is to breathe clean air, and decide that we want to keep it that way.

Surely, we will realise that the earth and its resources are precious, and  decide that we want to look after them.

Recycling surely must be the industry of the future!

Suddenly, the sun breaks through the horizon – really quickly, after all that time of white dullness – a glistening ball of brilliant light so bright I can’t even look at it. It burns a white spot onto the photo I take of the Eastern hills. I can feel its warmth on my back, as I write now.

It’s more than a promise, the sun light. It’s energy, nourishment and encouragement all in one.

Oh, how I hope that this will be our breakthrough!


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Photo: Monica Castenetto