Savoring Solitude: Devon Azzam, 5-15-2020

Friday, May 15, 2020
Education and Applied Psychology in a Time of COVID-19

Week 8 of quarantine. Two months of working on my laptop, in my bedroom. Although my senses are deprived during the working hours, the extra time at home has given me a chance to look closely at the season of spring. My first spring in Santa Barbara since the college years, and every day I am awestruck, thankful to be here in this place during this time.

I wake up to an orange sea of California poppies outside of the kitchen window. Out front, the Western redbud is in bloom, droplets of fuchsia emerging from bare branches. The pungent smell of sage fills the air. An owl flies overhead as we watch the meteor shower late one night. The brightness of the flower moon lights up the sky just before dawn. A rattlesnake in the middle of the road slithers back into the brush while alligator lizards and blue bellies dart back and forth. A veil of fog makes its way up the canyon, then burns off at the end of the day.

I realize this time of solitude is a gift for the senses. The busyness of my everyday life, racing from one event to the next, didn’t spare much time for noticing. Even on my daily runs, my mind would be planning and prepping for the day ahead. For now, with all of the schlepping from here to there taken out of the equation, a lot more space is available for just being. For allowing myself to take in the beauty around me. To notice what time hasn’t allowed me to notice before.

It still feels lonely and scary and dark sometimes, but then I look up and see a red-tailed hawk circling above, hear the frogs serenading down by the creek, and smell the desert willow beginning to bloom. For this opportunity I am thankful.

Devon Azzam, Gevirtz School Assistant Director of Outreach, is sheltering in place at home in Santa Barbara with partner Tarek, daughter Sophia (10) and son Dominic (7). Last day in the office 3/13, last day in the water 3/20, last day unmasked in public 4/3, last meltdown a few hours ago. Still running, gardening and listening to the trees.