Saturday, April 18, Stay Home, Don’t Lose Your Head.
by Dara Mac PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND, CANADA
The 35-foot black spruce stand tall, majestic, stoic; while I scream profanities in horror! Why? Because I’m from Montreal and that’s just what we do! The Maritime Electric crew have done their dirty work; they’ve disregarded our agreement and beheaded my beauties! I consider myself a peaceful warrior but today it would not seem so. The message from our Chief Medical Officer: Stay home! Yes, and enjoy the sounds of the screeching chainsaws and the grinding of sacred trees and stench of trucks spewing diesel. Who can even drum with all that racket?!

Mindfulness. Easier when pleasant things are happening like watching a live Q & A with one of my favorite jazz drummers, in his pajama bottoms, streaming from his NYC apartment. His advice? Stay home and practice. Focus. Cut the random crap.
Before each practice, I sit in mindfulness and meditation. Here. Now. With each breath. Releasing all that I cannot control. “Sit and relax. Close your eyes. Imagine looking at your life with joy, excitement, and anticipation because you don’t know what’s coming. As you accept whatever comes, your life becomes truly exciting.” – Effortless Mastery, Kenny Werner
Currently, I have access to several online drumming education groups so, there is absolutely no shortage of new material to work on. As always, the challenge is planning, focus and not getting overwhelmed by the vast amount that is out there! Probably the best advice I’ve received is to figure out where I want to be in 5 years, 1 year, 1 month, 1 week which will bring me to what I need to work on today. Each time I sit at the kit, I try not to set a specific amount of time but rather, focus on something I want to learn; sit with it, integrate it, make it my own. This is how to create your own sound – the stuff that makes you, you. Aaron Edgar.
Time for my daily exercise. “I am so fortunate to live on this is beautiful, peaceful island,” I keep thinking as I walk along the unpopulated shoreline. I notice a headless seal washed up on the shore and remember a newscast about how common this sight is becoming. An eagle circles overhead, reminding me that I am not alone in all of this pandemic pandemonium.

It is only when I begin to head back towards home that I notice a few people up ahead with two dogs off-leash. I wait far enough away, giving time to let them prepare for social distancing. I thought it was safe to pass when I suddenly heard buddy yell, “Don’t worry! He’s friendly”, as a wet, muddy, drooling mutt started running towards me…Those famous last words always run a chill through me when I remember my Cape Breton neighbor’s Great Dane holding my arm in its jaw, waiting for the order to rip it off. Needless to say, this encounter did not go down all that well. Mr. Snowbird has returned to his cottage for the good weather and has little regard for mask-wearing, social distancing and basically not getting his way. Not uncommon for this breed to adopt the entire beach as if it came with the sale of the cottage, allowing him to feel the sense of entitlement about who is permitted to walk his beach and when. Welcome to Holiday Island.

The Public Health State of Emergency was declared on March 16, 2020, when the first travel-related case of COVID-19 was reported. Very strict control measures have been put in place on PEI so that our health care system is not overwhelmed: social distancing, staying home, washing hands often, self-isolation for two weeks following off-island travel, testing, and contact tracing. In addition, entry to PEI is limited to essential travel and people are being screened and some turned away at the Confederation Bridge. Returning to your PEI cottage is not considered essential travel at this point in time. So far, there is no evidence of community transmission and 95-99 % of islanders are doing what we need to do to flatten the curve. At this time, 23 of the 26 travel-related cases of COVID-19 have recovered. Our efforts are paying off however, we are being warned that we cannot slack off now or all will have been in vain!

In addition to our Public Health State of Emergency, a’ State of Emergency’ has been declared on PEI. They are telling us what that means is border control will tighten up even more and include not only the airport and Confederation Bridge but also beaches and ports…so, fewer assholes taking over our beaches and no taking your boat, yacht, or private jet from wherever to get here either! PEI is limiting the access points by land, sea, and air. We may not have a tourism season this year. The good news is that our government and Public Health officials are making Islanders’ health more of a priority than money and the economy. Quite a contrast to our southern neighbors.

This global pandemic has forced each of us to rethink our lives, to sit with ourselves, to become more aware, more patient and to snap out of auto-pilot. I have always found that the most difficult part of fasting is eating again. The most challenging part of a silent retreat is learning to speak again and even more challenging, hearing others’ voices again. So when this is all over, how will we be together again?