One thing we can do is to stop. Stop running. Stop doing. Stop thinking in circles. Stop re-acting.
Try to not turn away from the uncertainty of our human future.
This is what I heard the Nigerian writer Bayo Akomolafe say. At first I felt offended. I was doing so much good work!
Yet, it’s easy to escape from the real, big, very big picture, the picture that includes everything plus all that we don’t know, still don’t understand, maybe sense, maybe intuit, or maybe dream.
Even activism, I found, can be a way to escape: reminding friends to off-set their carbon footprint, practicing self-care, attending protests, donating to Treesisters, riding my cool bike to the store, buying a re-usable gadget. I like to keep busy, especially in crazy times, especially under threat. I need focus and I want, no, absolutely need, to think I am doing my part, doing what I can.
Climate disruption, the disruption of our planet’s systems and the systems we have built on it, is so much more complex and profound than any one person can grasp, let alone change.
Facing into scary, overwhelming uncertainty, while still doing all these good things, is uncomfortable. It can seem almost impossible. I can’t do this alone.
In stopping, there is room to mourn, despair, cry. And listen.
Some deep thinkers say those things can make us grow, similar perhaps to the way some people respond when they are given a fatal diagnosis by their doctor.
They can change our way of looking at the world, at what matters most, at how we spend our time. Enough maybe to discover new thoughts, new directions, new access and responses to our unprecedented predicament.
Responses that include more of life: our relationship to our own mortality, to the earth and its beauty, our relationship to ourselves and to each other. In the way we think and act, we can still contribute to healing and repairing our world.
Uli Nagel is a German-born long-time resident of the Berkshires. A Pilates instructor by trade, she spends most of her time working on climate change: running the ener-G-saveenergy efficiency project in Pioneer Valley, volunteering for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and the Lee Greener Gateway Committee and co-organizing the yearly “Earth Expo” in the Berkshires.