Take close look at this Chinese/ Japanese Kanji symbol for chaos. Doesn’t it look like a surfer dude, knees bent, arms out for balance, riding a wave?

Yes, the Covid-19 pandemic is a big wave. Yes, you can fall and tumble around in the ocean and get hit by a reef rock, nipped by a shark, or struck in the head by your very own surfboard… but wow, it’s a thrilling ride, and the view from inside the barrel — inside the belly of the wave, is epic.

Helen Keller once said that life is a daring adventure, or it is nothing. I have that quote written on my bathroom mirror… I love the energy, ethic, and essential being it came from…very much, and it is very true.

Nature’s Reflection 2020

Yes, I am scanning the news (albiet only for a fixed break time and in the late afternoon-highly recommended). I know people are freaking out; others are really suffering; but there are so many positive benefits to this life slow-down, honestly, if we can look up, breathe deeply, and ride the wave. I am a good news girl, and I think a breath of fresh, positive air is healthy during these dark days. So, here are my thoughts, what are those CV-19 benefits, which are healthy to spread virally? (Yes, that’s an invitation to please share this post.)


  1. Locked in with Loved ones: Once families get past the fright of being in closer quarters for a period of time, perhaps we will look up long enough from our personal smart electronic devices — disconnect, and re-connect to the people who matter most in our lives — right here, right now… because honestly all we really have is right here, right now. I had a friend whose relationship deteriorated quite rapidly when even while sharing a meal together, he would spend 80% of his time coddling his cell phone, dealing with his important electronic correspondences. When I later put 2–2 together and realized that he was merely posting the cool place where we were (not enjoying together) our amazing gourmet meal to Facebook, I realized this Digital Age has supreme benefits, but real social hiccups. There is a time and place for social media…and it is not all the time and every place. And, maybe on-lock down in our homes, we’ll run out of cool corners of the closet and cat tricks to post… that we will have to simply put that phone down. And when we do, the most beautiful thing might happen; we might discover that the love and affirmation and joy that we were looking for on our devices is real and visceral and present right in front of you in the human beings central to your realright now life.

2. Personal Peace and Perspective: Isn’t it — when our lives spin out of control or we are so caught in the (I’ve more than once heard it called) soul-crushing competitive corporate edge or our complex lives trump our attention to personal health and wellbeing — — that we crash. When we push the edge of our healthful existence, nature sends us a message in the form of an illness… and we are forced to shut down, allow our bodies to heal and recover. Right? Isn’t that what’s really happening now, just at a global scale? Vacation is all about vacating our current daily life circumstance and recreating, spending time away to literally re-create ourselves, anew. Ironically, CV19 became a global whisper after Marte Gras (Fat Tuesday) and was labeled a full-fledged pandemic in the middle of the Christian Lent and nearing the Jewish Passover in April. The Muslim culture dedicates 30 days to prayer, fasting, and reflection during Ramadan, which also begins this year in April. And, today is the first day of spring for everyone. It’s the vernal equinox-when the day and the night are equal in time, and we transition from the dark, cold, isolation of winter into the bright sunny warmth and new life of spring. Perhaps personal slow-downs are good chicken soup for the soul — good breaks to dive into a novel and dream, write in your journal, or really savor that morning coffee with decorative swirls of cream. And scary as it might at first seem, this is a perfect moment to re-calibrate our Yang (action) with our Yin (reflection), to review and to prioritize what’s most important in our lives, and to calculate whether or not the time and attention we actually give those priorities in our daily OM experience and activity — truly measure up. Are we living our personal natura vera (true life)?

Nature’s Reflection 2020

3. Public Reflection: This is a great time for observation and reflection into society’s mirror from our inside (our homes and personal insights) out (to the world around us). I can’t imagine anyone now doubting that from Wuhan, China to Washington DC the fact that we are truly — physically, economically, socially, environmentally connected to one another…. The environmental conditions and quality of life around the world — in every community and ecological niche; matter. It is not a matter of social justice, only. It is a matter of our species health and holistic survival. This corona virus may be a royal pain during this period; but imagine it could be (perhaps one day will be) much more deadly a virus. This is our test of the emergency broadcast system. This is only a test… The question is: Will we broadcast and follow the proper protocol to mitigate the increased spread of the virus (btw: not a living microorganism) or will we broadcast the virus, itself? I would argue that the good, bad, and ugly of society has emerged from the smelly swamp in this crisis. It is my hope that the unprecedented shopping frenzy and the stressed out, fear-riddled, initial selfish survivalist reactions of the many people we’ve seen in the news beats…give way to a broader, more socially concerned, altruistic, and sharing mentality — as our lotus blooms open this spring (Om, madi padni om). Oh, the wisdom, healthy community dynamics, and survivalist strategies we can learn from indigenous groups and villages (like my community) on how to adapt with the spirit of communal compassion through this historic moment of transformation.

Nature’s Reflection 2020

4. Enjoy the Household Sitcom-Celebrate Community: Laughter is the best medicine; aye! Well, everyone’s situation is slightly different. I’m not a facebook addict, so I haven’t seen it all; but I’ve been amused by some of the stories you’ve shared. Thanks. And, my creative mind can imagine 100’s more stories that must now be playing out in different family dynamics- . What about the corporate executive entertaining back-back zoom calls to coordinate teams and departments and create new protocols for working online, while the kids fly their paper airplanes across the living room and crash on the couch? Or the dog underfoot as mom makes her calls to stores to hunt for the next peanut butter, bread, and tuna can delivery, while on hold with Pizza hut to order food-in for the evening? Re-runs of Zombies and bing-watching Walking Dead can’t be good for the psyche during these dark days…even WestWorld, Picard-Star Trek, and Outsiders are quite isolating series…No? Succession, uh, maybe not the right social morays or messages to bring into an already socially tense environment? Haven’t we already witnessed enough jockeying for the last roll of toilet paper in Costco? I just love that today the Mercury News in Northern California reported our California State Governor Gavin Newsom — officially running out of toilet paper in his home. Gavin and his wife are simple awesome people — focused 100% on how to create resilience for the rest of us in our community, while going paperless!!! Gavin deserves to be celebrated for his emergency plans for those individuals and businesses threatened now by unemployment, bankruptcy, eviction, and foreclosures. Our Golden State is certainly taking an economic hit due to this microscopic virus; but it could be worse if we didn’t take CV19 seriously now and we are a culture of innovation, so in the economic rubble be sure we will again rise. Suffice to say, Governor Newsom and other locals are the true heroes we should be watching and modeling in real life, instead of diving into the pints of Ben and Jerry’s chunky monkey and indulging in high throttle virtual reality action scenes of metal-vested comic book super heroes flying across the sky and blow up buildings, attempting to save the city from what green monster? Right? I am more inspired by those unsung super heroes in our neighborhoods and village communities. They are the Joses of our villages, gifting orchids to those people emotionally distraught by the CV19. They are the Kathleen’s organizing emergency organic food service and deliveries for those afraid or unable to hop over the hill and shop for themselves during this period. They are the regenerative ecologists in town hosting special programs to remind people there is life after crisis — nature shows us so. These are the people I want on my Noah’s arc and expedition up Mt. Everest.

Nature’s Reflection 2020

In stark contrast to the incredible selfish reaction of so many people to buy out the canned food, breads, pastas, and non-perishables on every aisle of all the major food store chains; our community is hosting weekly family farm to table garden-cooking classes (probably now online) and organizing a community food bank twice a week (with home food deliveries for those in real need). This is 100% people caring for people in times of crisis. It’s the best of humanity at work in the world… and the loving, selfless way to react to each other in a shared crisis. Here in my town, we smile and wave at each other and know our neighbors by name and family. Just because we now need to keep our physical social distance, doesn’t mean we have to keep our emotional, heart distance too… In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Here we walk the beach (some surf) to the Pacific setting sun and play soccer on Sundays -everyone is welcome, as we ride these waves of chaos, together — keeping the joy and music of life alive. And that’s how I believe it should be in every neighborhood and in every community. Also, there’s nothing saying you can’t take a walk in the woods, run in the parks, or ride your bicycle in the outskirts of your neighborhood — just keep to the 6 feet rule. Regardless of the weather where you live, it is the first day of spring, after all!

5. Reflect on the Economy: It is truly extraordinary to witness the domino effect of business shut-down around the world- bars, restaurants, theaters, entertainment, global events, travel (I had a full month lined up) across the board and beyond. Poof! I believe most of us are still in economic shock — it’s international news that many workers have been laid off with uncertain terms for the future, many others are just now realizing the potential losses in their investment portfolios; while the stock market continues to turn down, as well. As I was watching the red-tailed hawks ride the whirling thermals last night at sunset over the cliff — after virtual work; I thought… They don’t have student loans, or car payments or home mortgages or health insurance or corporate income taxes… They are so free… And the Miwok people who ground acorn meal and made shell necklaces to trade for wild caught venison inland or other bartered goods inland, and used the ubiquitous mullein plant of the figwort family for toilet paper… were they living with financial debt a few centuries ago? How did our world, where money is merely a medium of exchange, becomes so inequitable — where so few have so much; and so many can barely make it month-month without accruing greater and greater debt to a society whose credit and banking system is designed to maximize profit in brokering exchange; not necessarily to profit those actually exchanging value. And we think that our global economy has evolved into such a complex marketplace from the early city Sumerian days of trading barrels of barley to electronic trading and auctions today… imagine AI-driven and machine learned micro-trades increasing in frequency and speed every day… Layer on all the subsidies, taxes, brokering- bank transfers-currency converters- credit card fees; how could any human hope to keep up with the global economy (management of our home) in the future on the high speed track our markets run round and round. Certainly, nature knew it was time to take a breather. Hum… another topic, another wasp nest to open and enter… not today. But suffice to say, that days like today and periods of economic disruption like now, give us an opportunity to re-create financial tools and trade rules to value more the heart of any economy (management of home resources)- the people and the nature — the workers and the raw resources, responsible for extracting, replenishing, manufacturing, recycling, and regenerating the goods we buy and sell and upon which we base and build our homes and businesses.

Nature’s Reflection 2020

6. Be Grateful for the Internet — Global Communication Grid: Our lives and our daily routines may be dramatically disrupted and our businesses tipped on edge, but thank goodness there are alternative ways and tools and technologies for us to work virtually for a time. Can you imagine our world today without a virtual conferencing option, like zoom and go-to-meetings, to our home-grounded work lifestyles this week? Can you imagine our world without any online education, or google hang-out or google classroom tools? Or what about the 1000’s of online great books, education courses, master classes, podcasts (like Natural Intelligence Worldwide — wink-wink, GreenBiz), or resources like the SDG knowledge network, or livestreams from thought leader conferences, like WEF? Yes, I also have a hit list of films I still would like to view on Netflix, and one could literally watch the news 24–7 (like my mother and probably many others) to keep informed. There are also virtual reality experiences and interactive games — rich with detail and depth to entertain. But, it’s super important when we come out of home hibernation this late spring, summer; to remember that those virtual experiences are still artifices of the real world in which we live, move, and have evolved our ecological being over the millennia of Homo sapien life-nature experience. We are a species of the earth; and we belong in connection to the natural world; so to the extent that we can in our post-CV19 world reclaim our rightful stewardship role in the bioregions where we live-work and ensure that the very poor quality of life, poor health conditions that became the incubator for this virus (and the 7,000/year viral bullets we’ve missed) — do not exist in the future. And on that note, beyond our own personal and professional communications; thank goodness we have digital media correspondences and communication networks to fast (instantly) deliver and share messages with one another about the spread of the virus and precautions to take to keep us safe. Imagine if we did not have — RSS feeds, news flashes, amber alerts, twitter, instagram, what’s up, snapchat, facebook… we would not have a chance to rapidly mobilize a global social movement to counter the spread of the virus. True, the globalization of trade and travel, which also define this global digital age; have been the propagators of the CV19 virus — so I suppose the spread, as well as the suppression of it; are in large part due to the speed and scale with which we move around in the world. Perhaps in our post CV19 world, we will (as Amory Lovins and other natural capitalists have always preached) aim to create efficiencies in our energy, business and trade by moving fewer physical atoms- people and stuff around the world; but rather digital information and devices. Another digital media guru, Robert Tercek, also early on in his book, Vaporized, highlighted the shift Nikola Tesla predicted over a century ago across industries, countries, economies from the use of physical electronics and goods to digital services on fewer, smaller devices.

We are already living in the Digital Age; but such a global phenomena as this virus — seems to be a catalyst to propel even more people, faster, forward toward adopting almost universally — virtual communications and digital services, and even increasing conversion rates toward 100% online shopping — for everything under the Amazon and Alibaba sun, even food — virtually eliminating the physical marketplace… if only for a time, still demonstrating that it is possible. Is this not an interesting topic for further discussion? It most certainly is an interesting, and alarming topic… as critical, disruptive crises like this one — open the possibilities to previously un-imagined future scenarios. The science fiction of a parallel virtual world to our actual natural world may become science fact sooner, rather than later. And then again, maybe we have always been living in the Matrix… but now at what social, emotional, communal cost…?

Nature’s Reflection 2020

7. Nature’s Regenerative Response: Perhaps the most positive affect of the CV19 pandemic is that the air worldwide is noticeably clearer and cleaner — less particulates, less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide. NASA satellite images show a decrease in atmospheric carbon dioxide over China and reduced levels of nitrogen oxide in Italy as factories shut down and traffic congestion is much reduced. Given the global the reduction in air travel, local transport from home to office, and human movement in general, these next spring months I imagine the whole world will benefit from more clear, healthier, blue skies. And fewer (zero) tourists in places like Venice, overrun; we are also witnessing the water clear and the dolphins emerge.

Just last year at this time, the World Environment Day focused on air pollution as the global tragedy of the commons, reporting over 90% of the world population affected by poor air quality. Is it not ironic then that CV19, which symptomatically affects human respiration — is perpetuating a reduced level of human activity that has systematically decreased air pollution and caused this universal environmental affect, whereby our world can breathe more deeply again? CNN reported this morning that in China a 70% reduction in domestic flights, a deep fall in oil and steel production, and a 36% drop in coal consumption compared to previous spring trends, is strongly correlated with 10% lower pollution levels across Chinese cities (CNN March 19, 2020) Imagine.

Nature’s Reflection 2020

Now, in our post- Covid19 world; I would really love to know what the Potsdam Institute for Climate Action Research will predict for different levels of reduced global travel, trade, manufacture of physical goods, and human energy consumption… if we can take advantage of this CV crisis and learn how to operate our world together on a reduced carbon and energy cost to the environment. Back on this beat again soon….. And for now, nature will certainly not miss this opportunity with reduced human pressure to regenerate herself; so why not follow mother nature’s lead…and clean our (Eikos) house.

Catherine Cunningham

Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD, Natural Intelligence Media is committed to awakening Natural Intelligence in the World. We produce multimedia content — books, films, and podcasts that inspire everyone to live a happy, healthy, nature-conscious life.

Visit our Natural Intelligence Website HERE.

Listen to our Natural Intelligence Worldwide Podcast HERE.

Pre-order my Natural Intelligence by Design book HERE.


  • Catherine Cunningham, PhD

    Mission Possible: Awaken Natural Intelligence in Our World

    Natural Intelligence

    Dr. Catherine Cunningham, PhD is an ecologist, anthropologist, writer, filmmaker, and media host producing films, interactive experiences, and online multimedia for international clients who are focused on positive economic, social, and environmental win-win-win solutions to global conservation and climate change.

    Catherine has travelled, written, photographed, and filmed in 70 countries, producing creative films and music videos in support the UN Global Goals and the human+nature planetary health narrative. Visit Natural Intelligence.com to see where her work has premiered internationally. Over 20 years, she has interviewed hundreds of global thought leaders to promote sustainable solutions to climate change and conservation in creative ways. Catherine has written numerous articles on climate change, nature, and regeneration. She’s currently writing two books: “Naturally Intelligent by Design” — a fine art science and culture book for families and “Natural Intelligence”— a guidebook for well-navigating a post COVID-19 world by following nature’s principles. Partnering with Eurovision News and Events, Catherine is also an independent media host— producing content on nature, climate, and regeneration; syndicated globally by EuroVision’s News Direct. She is a regular contributor to Thrive Global and Medium. She currently produces communications for the Prince Albert II Foundation and participates in programming @ the World Economic Forum on Climate Change, Nature, and Biodiversity. As an university educator, Catherine taught undergraduate and masters courses in corporate sustainability communications at Arizona State University; global sustainability at Chapman University; biology, ecology, botany, and environmental science at Denver State College and Front Range College. In 2016, she designed one of the first university courses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (also online), contributing to youth action on the UN Global Goals. She also created a post-graduate program with UNESCO on the MAB (Man the Biosphere) reserves. Catherine earned her PhD in Ecosystem Science at ETHZ in Switzerland, studying climate impacts on mountain ecosystems. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Cultural Anthropology and International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame and a Masters degree from Utah State in Ecology. Catherine speaks fluent English and conversational Italian. She loves creative collaboration, media production, mountaineering, outdoor sports, yoga, wellness, and travel.