Saturday, May 2 – 20/20 Vision (Leave No Trace)

By Rhett Morita TORONTO, CANADA

These three words are part of the protocol or code of conduct for Burning Man A respectful and aware sentiment towards the value and sanctity of this finite planet that we all share and are graced by the wealth of her vast bounty.

In these times, ‘Leaving no trace’ could easily describe my day-to-day process since I’m continually cleaning surfaces with disinfectant wipes. I have become like a seasoned criminal, either wearing gloves (which I still disinfect after touching things, with wipes or hand sanitizer), and I’m always removing my fingerprints. I jokingly say that if a detective were to try to check my premises for fingerprints, they would come up empty-handed or fingered.

It would be like I was a ghost or invisible. Funny enough, I often think about how I can look like the classic invisible man when wearing a hat, glasses, and face wrap or bandanna. To me, the scary aspect of the invisible man is that ‘You cannot see him,’ simple, classic fear of what cannot be seen or sensed. It is an extension of the classic childhood, fear of the dark, fear of something just beyond our range of perception. The realization that our senses are limited, we cannot get security from the limitations of what we can see, or in the case of the dark, what we cannot see. Our imaginations fuel our fear, we ‘fill in the blanks’ and our worst nightmares can start appearing in our ‘ mind’s eye.’ That is why children want nightlights, so they are not filling in the darkness of what they cannot see, with their vivid imaginations. Usually, they put in something undesirable into those shadows, mostly due to lack of experience and reference. This learned childhood behavior might explain some of the strong reactions people have to the onset of this virus. Since they lack proper reference, experience, and understanding, they ‘fill in the blanks’ and live ‘daymares’ of fright, anger, and anxiety. It’s like our brains really hate ‘voids.’ They would rather put something in there (such as conspiracy theories) than nothing. Look to floatation tanks for more elaborate examples of that process, as it can ‘fill in the blanks.’

Now we can overlay asymptomatic carriers as a current metaphor for the ‘dark shadows’ of the Coronavirus, which still by human sense capabilities, is unseen since their microscopic size is basically invisible to the human eye. These silent but deadly ‘ninjas’ appear to have no external symptoms or visible signs but have some degree of viral transmission (data is still very sketchy and controversial ), so what we cannot see might hurt us.

This is a tricky and potentially stressful situation to cope with as (my own personal stance) you might as well assume everyone you deal with has it, including you! The self-inclusion is, to me, the ‘new’ important extra bit that I started adapting to my behavior, just a few weeks ago. Now I am fortunate that I bought a half dozen containers of disinfectant wipes, nearly three months ago, when I saw that the ‘unseen’ was going to be a major problem. So when I shop, I clean the handles of my shopping cart before and after I use it. That is my leaving no trace protocol, that is considerate to others, leaving no trace that I had ‘used’ it while being respectful for the next shopping cart user.

I am appalled by the leftover gloves and wipes, thrown around the grocery stores after those self-centered shoppers have safely made their trip to the grocery store, without concern for who comes next.

We are all in this together and consideration for all of our different approaches and care for the well-being of our fellow human, and our planet, is something I am trying to be more aware of, as it is too easy to get so self-centered and only self-aware due to our socially isolated conditioning. I noticed whilst shopping how our perception goes internal, self-focussed, which seems to be a natural inclination when you are all wrapped up, feeling a bit anxious, and maybe even self-conscious. It takes an effort to see outside of your own bubble. In our current lifestyle, I have been trying to ‘pause,’ take a slow deep breath’ and become aware, ‘pop my head up,’ observe my surroundings, once in a while. I am attempting to see the bigger picture.

There is a popular term in the filmmaking community that has been gaining hashtag momentum, ‘It takes a village.’ It is our global village that needs to adapt, respect, and attempt to ‘Leave No Trace’ as a philosophy to help direct our behavior in these New Times.

Rhett the JETT Morita
Toronto, Canada.