Can we talk for a minute?
I’ve been quiet on this blog for the past few weeks, mostly because I have been out of town, without internet. But there’s also a subterranean reason, one that feels almost too big to talk about, a subject hard to approach. For the first time, in a very, very long time, I am attempting to navigate hopelessness, and it’s companion, despair.
This time however, these feelings do not stem from inner contraction, but rather from my perspective which has been expanding, and facing the raw truth, the facts….looking at our environmental issues square in the eye and coming to the conclusion, as many others have, that we are totally, undeniably, screwed.
I have written frequently on this blog about HOPE. My own personal buoy for many years has been faith in human kind and ingenuity, belief in the inevitability of consciousness change, and the plain rational sense of pursuing a sustainable future. But as each milestone chance to “turn it all around” has been passed, as damage to the earth and climate is carried on as business as usual, and as the voices between the right and the left become more polarized, and as more people become disengaged and distracted, I have acquired a sinking feeling that is now carrying me down to the bottom of our acidic oceans. We as a species may still survive the changes to come…but at such a price that is terrifying to think about and a future that I can’t imagine wanting to inherit.
What a downer and you may not want to hear about this, I know. However, if I am to continue to write honestly on this blog, this is a conversation that needs to begin. Because I have decided how to respond and my response is this: I will meet our global situation head on (and heart on). I commit myself to rising to the challenge of staying present, incorporating some kind of steely and yet soft resolve. I love this earth, and I will bear witness to her changes, wounds, illness. And, if I may say so with a gulp and a lump in my throat, I also am committing myself to joy…to finding a way…somehow…to source joy in the midst of the greatest fear of my life…the irreparable destruction of our natural world.
The point is this…the loss of hope may not be such a bad thing. Recently, as I sat with a heart so broken I didn’t think I could stand it, I noticed what hope does, primarily because in that moment I wasn’t utilizing it. Hope can be a relief, and a panacea, it is true…but it also allows us to totally bypass the here and now. “I don’t have to feel this fear, I don’t have to face these truths, these situations, because MAYBE at SOME POINT everything will be BETTER.”. Without using hope to catapult myself over how awful I feel in the moment, this is what happens…I feel TERRIBLE. The experience feels eternal, the sorrow vast and deep. And then….another moment comes….and maybe the pain is still acute, and maybe it is my daughter bringing me a pretty leaf, or maybe it is time to make dinner.
Truly, as those of you familiar with buddhist dharma know, experience and emotions are like clouds in the sky…they are there, often dark and threatening, and the rain and storms may come. The next moment, they are gone, or changed, and it is a different sky. The work here is to not turn away from the weather, nor to lasso the clouds by trying to think them away…the work, whether it be in grief or anxiety or even happiness, is to be present to it all, the intensity in the moment and the natural passing on to the next.
If this was some earlier era, I would probably be packing my bags and heading for a hermitage in the hills. Somedays I feel so dire that I just wish for the option to rocket myself away from it all and live on some space station, like Columbus sailing for the New World. But there is no where to run and no where to hide.
Besides, I owe it to my daughter to set an example. She deserves a fully embodied, engaged, spirited Mom. A mom who can put her action where her mouth is, and teach, by example, how ALL of human experience can be embraced.
She also deserves popsicles and Yo Gabba Gabba, circuses, playdates and swim lessons. Life’s gotta be lived. Love’s gotta be given. And received.