Pandemic Archive

What Nature Made Me Understand

By Andreas Breden . . .

Looking out across my hometown in mid Norway when the SARS-CoV-2 appeared I found the information about the virus and the situation presented by different sources difficult to grasp. I have at several points looked back and tried to understand my process of living with the virus without really having succeeded with that. I recently broke my phone which created a lot of frustration, since I know it’s half a day’s job buying and configuring a new phone. Going through my photos to copy them onto my computer induced a certain amount of curiosity and I started looking at some of them with new eyes. With a fresh discussion of Covid-19 in the back of my head, some of the photos started talking to me about how I might understand my world today. These photos were images that nature had been presenting me with over the past year.


At the beginning of March the situation felt like I was trying to follow one of many curly branches of a dense tree from the tip of one twig through to the trunk and on to its roots. It was hard to hold focus on one thing without being distracted by another. One news article contradicting another. One headline more tempting than another. One way to interpret the virus more optimistic than another. And so it went on, creating chaos.

The first couple of days in quarantine were tense days. I was afraid to get a claustrophobic feeling of loneliness, despite living with my best friend – my dog brother. My perception was stunned and it was a hard time trying to see the whole picture. It felt like I was only able to see a small spot in the darkness. Like being stuck in the darkness of a cave trying to crawl down into the depth of it only supported by the light of my headlight. What was lurking in the depths of my soul? I didn’t know. I had never been there. I was afraid the walls of my apartment should feel too cold during the quarantine and I was also scared from being alone and that loneliness should overwhelm me.

My girlfriend was quarantined in her home. I was quarantined in mine. The fear of loneliness also included being physically detached from the only person I wanted to stay together with. We weren’t allowed to meet. Our love was left alone on the cold and dirty street only accompanied by uncertainty.

After a few days of feeling anaesthetised I started thinking about what to fill my time with. How could the coming weeks and possibly months feel meaningful? Should I choose to walk the narrow path in the mountains? Or the path through the forest? At first I didn’t know. And did I even see all my possibilities?

From time to time I lost faith. Before the virus appeared, my life was a sturdy trunk reaching for the skies, but the virus changed the crown of my tree making my future reach back down towards the ground trying to regain my life. Trying to reach back down to a point where my life and the world gave meaning.

I don’t know how I came to choose my path, but looking back at the last half year I think I’ve walked in the sunlight on ascending steps. And despite having had feelings of fear, loneliness, exhaustion and sadness I now feel more optimistic having looked at my photos.

I’m still trying to listen to what the nature is trying to tell me through my computer screen. I have a feeling it is asking me to look closer. Reduce speed. Relax. Enjoy. Chill out. And try to see the one with four leaves among all the other ones.

Look for the water and where it flows. Are there any new opportunities coming your way? Can you use the change in the world to achieve something for yourself? For your family and friends? For your community? And humanity? The stream of change might be hidden.

Or it might seem to be inaccessible or so powerful that it overwhelms you. Do you have to take a leap of faith to reach it? Or do you need safety gear?

The pool of change might also be only a small but important pond. Almost unnoticeable against the scenery of the mighty mountains but nevertheless waiting.

Or frozen to ice at the moment waiting for the right timing to present you a chance for change. Are you patient enough? Can you melt the ice?

Or it might simply be calm, still and welcoming, making it easy for you to dip in and let it embrace you, demanding no effort?

Traveling through my pictures and listening to what the nature has got to tell me has given me hope. Hope for myself. Hope for my community. And hope for humanity. SARS-CoV-2 is a threat. We are handling it. We are taking precautions. We are caring about each other. We are keeping distance. We are washing our hands. We are starting to smile at each other again in the streets. We care about lives that matter. We rebel against injustice. We are becoming we again. And though it might not be over yet, the sun is still shining on the fields.

On the cold lakes with its water coming from the higher up glaciers.

On the mountain sides. One at a time depending on the time of the day.

Promising an even better day tomorrow. Again. And again.

I know hard times will come. Again. And I know nature will reach out it’s hand to those listening and seeing. Again. Even though it looks muddy and dark.

Just look close enough and you’ll see a friend reaching out, saying: “Relax, my friend.”

“Lean on me.”

“I got you.”

And in the end I hope you also will feel rooted. Again.

And enjoy the calmness of your life as the sun is descending with a promise to once more see you tomorrow. Promising new opportunities for change. If you want.


2 thoughts on “What Nature Made Me Understand

    • Your photos are amazing, Andreas! It’s like a meditation scrolling through and reading your words; thank you.

    • I found I had very physical reactions in different parts of my body when I read this, Andreas. The loneliness, the hope, the connecting to nature and learning from it all moved me. I liked the movement too between pictures and words. For me, it was like being on a walk with you through territories I would not have otherwise experienced in this way, and therefore not seen. In this sense you use writing and imagery to map your territory – and make it shareable with others.

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