The clearest way into the universe is through a forest wilderness.-J. Muir
We braved the crowds, who were almost as numerous as the trees. The trees, which compose part of the 3% of coastal old growth redwoods left. Three percent.
I’ve been in a bad way lately. I’ll be transparent…my eco-anxiety has been through the roof. Fukushima, chinese industrialization, oil spills, fracking, all wrapped up in an 80 degree November day. I wake up at 4am and am terrified for my daughter’s future, sorrowful for the suffering of all beings, human and non-human.
(You know those highlighted words are links, right? I try my best to vet articles, so these are researched or reviewed pieces. However, if you are triggered by disturbing news, don’t click. I offer them to the less-informed and curious reader.)
If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll remember the process of navigating earth grief that surfaced for after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico catastrophe. That experience of grief truly began in childhood and it continues today. I’ve become quite adept at handling the tsunami of emotions that used to knock me off my feet. I keep my seat, as they say.
The craptastic part of being an ecotherapist, is that just as I find a point of equilibrium, I am challenged to find it again when the bad news gets worse. And what is really eating away at me lately, is a loss of hope and enough scientific understanding to know that however bad things like Climate Change seem now, in a couple of decades, our present environmental mess will seem like a cake-walk. These are the good old days.
Sometimes the extreme bad news is balanced out by extreme hopeful news. It’s like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon, where Bugs and Sam are in dentist chairs, each one pumping the handle on the side to raise their chair up, in a race to the ceiling. On the brink. Neck and neck. Teetering. These are the words that play in the background of my mind as I go about my day.
But there is no ground, no point of refuge, no guarantee. How delightfully Buddhist. If I was more dedicated, perhaps I would consider free-falling good news.
I’m attached, I’ll admit it. I cherish being a human animal on planet Earth. I want to thwart unnecessary suffering for my daughter. For all sentient beings. Human and non-human. So I don’t quite know, in our current environmental crisis, how to source equanimity. Aside from returning to the very immediate present moment. The breath. My daughter’s eyes. My partner’s laugh. Good food. Birdsong. A privileged life.
Spot the urRu.
Buckeye before the fall.
Before we headed into the woods, I planted a prayer in my heart. An ongoing intention, an open invitation for deeper, intuitive understanding. Please help me find the way…as a mother, as an Ecopsychologist, as a Scorpio with, as Steven Forrest would say, a defective repressing mechanism.
I believe there’s an answer, even if it’s how to find balance without answers. I believe there is a course of action, and the first point of focus is on managing anxiety, not getting thrown by the horrendous news du jour. Managing my mind, my thoughts, nourishing my heart, my body.
I touch my bones and know that we are born to die. I vow to live my life with gratitude. I commit myself to visioning the best possible world for us all. I put my feet in the pile, the one on the brakes, joining in the (perhaps futile) attempt to avoid a collision course with an unviable planetary future.
I touch my heart and know tenderness. I touch my family and know love. I touch the ground, and know life.
When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.–J. Muir