Feeling the Joy, the Gratitude, and … the Grief

<June 2/19>

Most people, or so it would seem, are unable to contemplate or consider (or, um, admit out loud / publicly) the possibility (the likelihood) that our species is headed for extinction – likely sooner than we know.

To me, this seems odd; I’ve been contemplating the possibility (the likelihood) for decades. Truly! I became an environmental activist in the mid-to-late 1980s. The notion that we were likely headed for the cliff/a brick wall inevitably came to me pretty early on in the game. (When you see the forces of #JustDoNothing all around you? Among your fellow citizens, among governments, among corporations? Well. It offers a bit of a clue.)

So, I spent decades trying to stave off the inevitable … not that I think (now) that there was ever really a chance not in my lifetime, anyway that we could have done this. That realization did also arrive, inevitably. No regrets! They were great years. 🙂 One does, one can become resigned to extinction. But also, fully committed to efforts to stave it off. Paradox? Maybe…

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

How can I help articulate this, so as to be helpful to others?

Early in my career as an environmental activist, I felt a lot of anger. I think grief was hiding there, under the anger. But I didn’t realize that then. (I was so busy being angry. & thinking I could change everything. & everyone. & “save the world.” You know. Of course, more could be said about all that. I’m trying to stay on point here.)

Luckily, early in the game I also learned – partly through intuition, largely through the great grace of friendship with some awesome activists who’d been at it much longer than I had – that one needed to balance one’s activism with time in Nature.

That time in Nature was healing. Sanity-restoring. Re-energizing.

This was a huge gift. Life-altering. Helpful. Essential!

One could drain one’s energy bank, but have it replenished by, say, going on a canoe trip. Going for walks in the woods. Cross-country skiing in a beautiful, quiet wood. Etc. (Even a regular walking habit.)

I know now I could not have done all the environmental work I’ve done in the past thirty-some years if I had not learned to be

  • a little bit outdoorsy &

  • a lot grateful for the beauty and wonders of this incredible planet we sprang from.

Having immersed myself in a variety of issues over the years (this went more or less from water>waste>pesticides>ozone layer>toxics reduction>cancer prevention>energy conservation>climate change>lead>nukes … although not anywhere that neatly 🙂), I kind of learned a lot about the true, deep, relentless, thoughtless, rapacious assault on the planet our species has been waging … for a very, very long time. (Indeed, it does go back a very long time.)

Perhaps only during the last phase of my years as a purely environmental activist (anti-nuke-focused), did I finally cotton on to

  • how incredibly corrupt our governments are (Yikes! Truly well out beyond the pale…. 🙁 🙁 🙁)

  • how deeply they collude with industry/corporations (& this includes all the government bureaucracies, I am sorry to say … & more latterly, the universities got bought up too 🙁)

  • how truly, thoroughly, deeply, inexorably f**ked we are on more levels than I had perhaps previously quite been able to fully take in (it is not “just” climate change we are rassling with), & finally

  • the hard truth that the people who really run things here on Planet Earth are a very nasty lot indeed. I have come to use the word evil … a term I arrived at only after many years in the trenches. (some musings on psychopaths here)

I had known all along the way that there were very few signs we really had any intention of changing our behaviour (Few signs?? Hmmmm. Maybe no signs??). I did change my own in a variety of ways! But while one person can make a difference (& the changes felt good, & right, inside) one person’s choices (even a whole town’s choices, a whole country’s!) cannot put the brakes on such a massive, rapaciously destructive juggernaut that is operating on the global scale.

Being this person who worked passionately but also became a faithful practitioner of gratitude (lots about gratitude here) – and walking, I dare say: the quiet & solitude & reflective time also help a lot – I somehow learned to confront the grief under the anger. Not confront it. Face it. Feel it.

When you stay stuck in anger, &/or in determined workaholism (surely a very serious epidemic among us??), I think one is subconsciously trying to avoid the pain. The grief. Which, in my opinion, is not a particularly helpful strategy. Not a very wise one. My take, anyway. (Though I have no doubt done, & continue to do! some of this myself. Well, we’re all just human, hmmmm?)

I have no recipe for how to learn to feel your own grief. Grief is such a messy thing!

Not sure where I picked up this graphic. On Facebook, likely.

Not sure where I picked up this graphic. On Facebook, likely.

I think we have to learn to do some un-plugging from the human parade of insanity that passes for “regular” life these daze, in order to cope with the strangeness of human life on the planet at this time.

  • Turn off devices/social media

  • Go for walks/hikes/canoe outings/whatever…

  • Learn to love the natural world

  • Learn to be thankful for all this grace, beauty & abundance

  • Develop purpose?

  • Sing. Dance. Hang out with friends. Laugh. Have fun!

 I do think you have to really appreciate it – life/Life & this planet, I mean (i.e. not just take it all for granted) – before you can properly grieve the losses that now seem to be surrounding & engulfing us, that we are now almost literally drowning in.

I don’t know. I’m such an oddball (yes, I know I am, & am just fine with that! 🙂), how can I possibly really communicate what I mean??

Never mind.

More articulate souls than I have said plenty of wise things on the topic of grief.

I’ve done some postings about grief over the past few years, & provided links to each of these people (& others). The Collections posting has a number of items about grief (along with other topics I’ve written about, e.g. near-term extinction). Also quotations: grief here, near-term extinction here.

Me, myself? I grieve. Absolutely. Actively. I also give thanks. (Often. Daily.) My heart breaks. Often. (Daily.) & even though I’ve been immersed in this stuff for a long time (the issues, the activism, the grief), I can’t really get my head around it – our (I believe) inevitable (maybe even semi-imminent) demise as a species. Not really.

I mean, I know it is coming…

& yet it’s so hard to really take it in … isn’t it??

All I know to do is

  • Continue loving Nature/the Earth (is Nature for you??)

  • Continue being profoundly grateful for my many blessings

  • Being as present as possible for each moment as it is happening

Pema Present Moment.jpg

  • Make no assumptions about what will happen next

  • Continue making use of myself to my fellow humans (there are so very many ways to do this!)

  • Hang out with folks I love, respect, admire … have fun with!

  • Allow myself to grieve & cry – howl from time to time, if need be. Feel the feelings.

& now??

It’s time for a beer!

So, off I go.

QED.

Janet

p.s. there are many postings in the near-term extinction (NTE) section of the Collections posting about dealing with the reality we are facing, or, really, immersed in, engulfed by. I write these things ‘cos I feel compelled to. I always hope they may be of some use to other humans too.  

p.p.s. the thing about grief is – or rather, one of the things – is, it’s messy. It isn’t neat. It does not, will not, conform to anybody’s tidy little ideas or charts or graphs about it. As that graphic up there shows. The other thing is, I think you have to open the door to it. You have to let it in. Not use all your energy shutting it out. I think you have to surrender to it. Allow it to have its way with you … as it were. I don’t think you get to have your way with it. It works the other way around. That’s what I think, anyway. It’s a visitor that will only enter in if invited. Allowed. Surrendered to. & so very few of us will allow it.

It's time, humans!

“There is some strange intimacy between grief and aliveness, some sacred exchange between what seems unbearable and what is most exquisitely alive.” – Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow – Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief  

“Facing grief is hard work. … It takes outrageous courage to face outrageous loss. This is precisely what we are being called to do.” – Francis Weller in The Wild Edge of Sorrow

** more quotations about grief here

** near-term extinction quotes

** walking quotes

** gratitude quotes

A Hill Worth Dying On

<June 1/19>

I’ve been an activist for more than 30 years (best I can figure, it all began for me 35 years ago now). Have worked on many issues over these decades. At one time I felt so strongly about the (to-me) horror of burning household garbage, I’d have chained myself to something in protest. (Yes, we lost the battle on that one, as on so many others, & yes, I still consider it an abomination.) I did chain myself to some fellow activists in a climate justice arrest gig in late 2009 (for the record, it was a very fun experience!)

I became very passionate about particular issues, at different times along the way. 30 years ago, I began focusing almost exclusively on environmental issues. But I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “a hill worth dying on” until recently.

One key thing is I do believe our species is pretty much on its last legs. Our days are numbered, now, I am convinced. Of course, no one knows precisely how it will go down – or exactly when. But I think we all have a sense (viscerally, perhaps?? Subconsciously?) that the state of our air – water – Earth is more than a little on the (really-really) dire side … hmmm??

So. Here I am, now, very (very!) active on the vaccine issue, & not much interested anymore in the various issues I spent so many years working on so passionately (e.g. pesticides, nukes), or even getting arrested protesting (climate change).

Why do I say now that this is a hill worth dying on?

Well.

Now that I know how very much harm is being done to our children … something I spent 63 years being entirely oblivious to … & utterly convinced that we’re cooked anyway, as a species….

Toast.jpg

I’d much prefer to spend my time working on an issue that has the potential to actually help people – especially families with young children – who are right here alive & right in front of us, right now.

The autism epidemic is a scary, sobering, heartbreaking (heartwrenching!) thing. & of course vaccines contribute not just to autism but to many other conditions & illnesses.

These are very challenging times to be alive (ya think??). So many things are making so many of us feel stressed out – on a routine, daily basis. Imagine how much stress there is in your life if you have a child who has been seriously damaged (or who died!) as a result of vaccine injury.

Truly sobering to contemplate how horrible this must be.

Now. Who knows how much time we have left?

Who knows how it will go down?

Nobody knows this.

We can only make wild guesses.

 

A person has to have purpose, no? For me, having been an activist for so darn long, it’s virtually part of my wiring by now. I wouldn’t know how to live my life without raising heck about something I care passionately about!

So.

This has become the hill I will die on.

& that’s alright with me.

QED.

Janet

p.s. you know, I just came from an event where a pretty powerful documentary about climate change was shown. ‘The Human Element.’ Discussion started up afterward about what people can do on the climate front. I’ve been paying attention to this issue since back in the days when we were talking about “the greenhouse effect” – not yet using the term climate change (i.e., late 1980s). I did my fair share in my personal life to limit my carbon footprint (using less energy, making less garbage, driving my car less & using public transportation more, choosing not to fly for quite a few years in there, etc.). Something that I noticed at the film event that was utterly absent, was any discussion of the likelihood of human extinction. Talk about an elephant in the room!?

Elephant in the room!.jpeg

Something else that, to my way of thinking, really ought to be talked about publicly – not swept under the carpet & ignored – is grief. Encouragement to actually feel the grief of our situation – and to express it. We likely need a whole lot of “grief work” to help us out with this.

Dahr Jamail: ‘   Climate Crisis Forces Us to Ask: To What Do We Devote Ourselves?   ’ &lt;May 6/19&gt; Great lecture with climate update from DJ    here   .

Dahr Jamail: ‘Climate Crisis Forces Us to Ask: To What Do We Devote Ourselves?’ <May 6/19> Great lecture with climate update from DJ here.

p.p.s. & so, since in my view, there is nothing I/we/you can do to stave off the coming disaster (climate change is like a humongous nasty horrible monster on steroids. Does anyone really believe this creature can be stopped?????) … we are done.

Climate change timeline.png

BUT. Vaccine injury is still preventable. One person, one family at a time. Every family/parent one talks to about the risks, one has the potential to prevent future injury. Prevent a disaster.

Hence, my current preoccupation.

p.p.p.s. I might add that I do write quite a lot about near-term extinction (NTE), & about grief (& have been doing so for some years now). Nor am I alone in this. If you go to the Collections posting on this site & scroll down, you’ll find headings on both ‘Grief’ & ‘Near-term Extinction’ with postings on both topics. Included are links to other resources, graphics, & quotations. Feeling (& expressing) our grief are not things that we are encouraged to do, in this culture, it seems. We likely need a wee bit of help with this, is the point. (My next posting will focus largely on grief.)

p.p.p.p.s. There are many postings about the vaccine issue on this site. All are gathered up neatly under the heading ‘On Vaccines’ on the main page of this site. (Scroll down below the Quotations. I do tend to get a bit carried away with those. 🙂 )

** Quotations about NTE here. Quotations about grief here. Quotations about vaccines here.

Walking. Still…

<May 23/19>

Some days I wake up with an elephant on my chest.

Well, you know, a metaphorical elephant.

But it really feels like an elephant is sitting there.

My chest feels literally heavy.

 

There’s a whole lot of shit going on … isn’t there?

Some of it right in my own little life. (Details unimportant. Sadly, I suspect we all have some. 🙁)

Some of it out in “the world.”

 

Weltschmerz maybe? (not sure I’m using the word right.)

Maybe that’s what I’m suffering from.

Okay, never mind. Let’s just call it existential dread. Might as well call a spade a spade.

So that’s how it was this morning.

 It was, in this case (I could tell), both “personal” & the usual “global” stuff.

These are trying times, after all. I hear the Big Boys are planning a war. Well, they’re always planning/carrying out wars, of course.

…..rather well &amp; succinctly put, wouldn’t you say?

…..rather well & succinctly put, wouldn’t you say?

In this case, against Iran.

But you know? Right now, I just don’t really want to know about it.

There’s just so much other shit already…

 

So … I’d woken up with the elephant.

As I drank a cup of coffee, I read a chapter of Manual for Survival - A Chernobyl Guide to the Future … just the sort of book guaranteed to really lift the spirits …. you know? Learning more about the lies & coverups & treachery among so-called “leaders” in the aftermath of the April 26, 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine. It’s a book I’m reading slowly – really, really slowly – usually one short chapter at a time. It’s very heavy. It only adds to the elephant problem. (& yet, being who I am, I feel obliged to read it. & truthfully, it is fascinating … in a horrifying sort of way.)

Then I recalled this lately-acquired gem of a quotation about walking:

“Above all, do not lose your desire to walk. Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being...I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it.” – Soren Kierkegaard

(** more great quotations about walking here)

& I thought “Yes!”

Decided I would go out for a walk, & walk right away from all the shit.

As almost always happens, I knew within a moment or two of heading out that I’d made the right call. Gave a cheery wave to a woman who lives down the street who was out walking her dogs, then saw a cute little kid dilly-dallying up the street, playing his own little game of hide-and-seek … This cute little boy made me smile hugely. 🙂 I was hearing lots of birdsong too. 🙂 🙂

All that just walking down the block to the lake & Boardwalk!

& yes, I am hugely privileged to be

a)    “retired” now

b)    living so near Toronto’s east-end jewel, the Boardwalk along Lake Ontario.

Note: I don’t always walk by the water. I’m far too much of an anarchist to live by rote, or by “routine.” Walking-wise, I generally just follow my nose. (I must have a pretty good nose, ‘cos I can’t recall a “bad” walk, ever! Does such a thing even exist??)

& note this too! It’s an extremely dreary day today. Gray. (Raining now, actually, as I draft this while sitting in a coffee shop.)

But ….there is just some kind of magical alchemy that occurs when you walk! I’ve written about this elsewhere (many posts & quotes & resources about walking at this spot).  Just think how integral walking is to our nature. Just muse on how long human beings have had these legs!

The point is, you DO walk away from your troubles.

Provided you keep at the habit for a while, & watch out for that “monkey mind” & its habitual (usually negative & repetitive) thoughts.

This little item can be helpful. (I keep it up on my fridge, as a reminder.)

Thoughts and Feelings.JPG

This too:

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. That's a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control.” – Elizabeth Gilbert (Free Will on Dec. 23/15 )

Sooooo…. my walk was great! Sure, I had an occasional negative or sad thought along the way. But I mostly just walked away from them. (My legs just plain really LOVE walking.)

& I saw a heron & a couple of swans

Heron shot.JPG

… maybe even a Baltimore oriole!

& chatted about birds for a bit with a friendly lady out on the Ashbridges Bay walkway.

& listen, I know very well that not everyone is

a)     retired

b)    living in a great neighbourhood by the lake (in a shabby apartment, okay? Just for the record? 🙂)

Nor have I always been! You can (& should!) walk wherever you happen to live – it’s not so much about Nature as about getting those legs moving for a while … though some lovely trees & birdsong never hurt, of course.

The happy outcome makes the effort of finding 20-30 minutes out of your day (longer even, if possible) hugely worthwhile. Let’s face it, even cities have parks & small oases of trees.

& heck! If you can stomach walking in a shopping mall (not my cup of tea atoll!), go for it!

Or even set yourself an errand a 10 or 15 minute walk away, & then walk there (& back).

& then keep this little habit up for a while until one day it comes to you that you’ve become addicted to walking!

If you want to walk with someone else, fine! That’s how I started out. A 20-minute walk several times a week with a good friend. After she moved away, I just kept walking … ‘cos I realized I was hooked! Now, I much prefer solitary walks.

I’m pretty convinced we can all use some quiet & solitude. A break from devices & conversation & other people’s agendas.

In the midst of the cacophony of the ever-ramping human insanity we are all of us surrounded by – immersed in – in these so-challenging times.

Walk. Just do it!

“Walking is truly medicine.” – Max Lugavere, author of Genius Foods & 'Breadhead' filmmaker, quoted in episode 2 of  the Dr. Mark Hyman 'Broken Brain' series.

Janet

p.s. a couple more specific “how-to’s” to get you on your feet, if you need them:

** the links inside those postings will almost certainly be duds. The result of a blog migration a few years back. 🙁