The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world, but for global families, closed borders separated families. Grappling with the "new normal", FIGT member Nikki Cornfield shares how connecting with nature helped her feel at home.
By Nikki Cornfield
In Perth, l have been living in a place which is the envy of the world. The pandemic has been like watching a movie from the safety of our sofa at home.
We closed our borders in late March 2020 and denied the travel that fed my soul. I took solace from nature as the world was shaken like a snow globe. During the pandemic, the beach has been my daily ‘go to,’ my happy peaceful place, as I have grappled with the frustration and sadness at being isolated from my family on the other side of the world.
Since then, I have walked barefoot for hours on empty beaches staring out to sea, imagining the ‘other world.’ Having my feet connected to the endless white sand, I felt grateful to be mask free, able to breathe a deep lungful of energy emitted on the ocean’s breeze. This daily ritual has grounded and connected me to Mother Earth and pulled me out of the air and my head where I have spent most of my nomadic life.
Before the pandemic, travel was like a balloon tied around my waist trying to pull me off somewhere else, my feet restless, always looking for the next best thing. Now, daily, I crave this grounding and to feel my feet in one place as the intensity of the chaos grips the world.
Despite the ripple of unease permeating my world, my connection with nature has kept me intact, my bubble, my personal boundaries around me strong. It has felt as a family that we have been afforded a place of safety on Noah’s Ark, a bunker to retreat as the world has been rained on by troubled times.
One day I took a call from a close friend on the beach, she was warning me of what she saw ahead. I didn’t want to believe her or accept that my travel-rich life was about to change. I kept resisting, wanting to keep in my bubble of contentment and not see the reality of what was happening outside, in the rest of the world.
As I stared out to the ocean that day, I imagined myself in a piazza in Italy sipping a cold glass of limoncello, watching the street life pass by. Reflecting on a lifetime of memories, adventures and experiences that have come my way, I wanted to believe I would wake up from this bad dream; have the choice to take myself off the stage and the part I had been forced to play. My friend told me it was time to prepare, to be self-sufficient and to start growing my own food. I heard the laugh catch in my throat, this was surely a film idea, not for real.
I felt a heavy energy and an urgency then to return to my roots, my childhood home but the borders were shut, the drawbridge firmly up and our doors locked tight to visitors. For the first time in my life the skies were quiet and my diary life a slate wiped clean.
After the call I stared out to the ocean, a need to be soothed by its rhythmic swish. I kept my feet firmly in the sand, anchored in case I slipped to my knees. My world as I knew it had changed and seemingly overnight. Mum was stuck in Bangkok on her way to us but that was as far as she got.
I decided on that beach to concentrate my energy on the things I could do to keep my family healthy and in a good vibrational state. I connected back to my dad this way who was now locked up, isolated in a care home on the other side of the world without Mum by his side.
I have spent a lifetime thinking something was missing, with my feet mainly up in the air. As an expat I have felt the loss of ‘home’ for years, a turmoil that I had lost something deep, profound and intrinsic to my soul. I have been lost, uprooted and with a deep urge to find myself, that inner sense of home.
I now had the knowledge to protect my own family and their health. This pandemic drove me to plant my own garden, to drive my roots into the ground and not give in to the collective fear. I planted to remember my dad and to return to self-sufficiency and live like I did as a child, as close to nature as possible.
That night I craved music knowing it would soothe my jangled nerves. Instinctively I knew who I wanted to listen to; and the house filled with the powerful voices of Andrea Bocelli and his son Mateo singing ‘Fall on me.’ I was immediately transported to my beloved Italy and huge tears flopped down my cheeks. “Why are you crying?” my husband asked.
“I wasn’t ready for the world to change.” I said sadly and retreated to the garden seeking solace in nature again.