Musings

End Days – More Thoughts (Fear)

Well, I did talk about grief in my previous post.

I suspect a great many of us keep pretty busy avoiding “difficult” emotions like grief.

I don’t exactly court them, you understand: I merely allow them.

Surrender to them.

Remember…

anger and sadness .JPG

Whoa. & also this amazingly helpful item:

Grief Graphic.jpg

Something I did not address in the previous post is fear.

It could be that a lot of people can’t entertain the thought of human extinction because of fear.

& I get that.

Totally.

I too am fearful at times.

(I’m not afraid of us becoming extinct. That’s an idea that’s been rolling around inside my mind for decades.)

What I worry about – what I fear – is suffering.

I would go entirely mad if I focused a lot of my energy on that.

(I am not too worried about my own suffering. Again, I’ve been contemplating human extinction for a long time. Also, I’ve had a very full life.)

It’s the idea of the suffering of others – especially children – that makes my heart hurt.

I’m not going to be too glib here.

I want to make it quite clear that in my view what our species has done (continues to do) on this beautiful planet - what has been done all through recorded history (patriarchy – dominance – exploitation of both people & Nature – violence – wars – horrific social inequities – genocides, etc.)

is horrific.

Really, I can’t find the right adjectives for it.

Appalling.

Scandalous.

Horrendous.

Etc.

 

There is so much suffering going on all around us, all the time.

All the time

All the time

All the time.

That for me the only way to deal with it…

is to do my very best to live in the present moment.

All the sages have been teaching/preaching this for millennia.

It’s the only way I am able to remain more or less sane.

“It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society.” – J. Krishnamurti

“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?” – Ursula K. LeGuin

For me personally, sanity has also meant making good use of myself – to the world – in practical ways.

My particular chosen path (if we can call it that) is activism.

I continue to be an activist (on a few different fronts).

But each of us must find/choose her/his own way to remain more-or-less sane & standing – in the midst of this time of Pretty Spectacular Planetary Blowout. #PSPB … eh??

Let’s help ease suffering however we can – as our species makes its way off the stage. (I think it can be argued pretty persuasively that as a species we are not leaving with even the slightest bit of grace, but perhaps as individuals we can demonstrate some grace & class on our way out the door. Something to strive for, at any rate, no? My previous post has several graphics relating to the idea of service in these days / daze.)

Janet

p.s. here are a # of things that are helpful for me in these times (besides activism, I mean):

  • Breaks from “devices” & social media (I don’t own a TV, so all that fear-mongering one sees rouinely on television is, thankfully, not an issue for me except when out in public or at the laundromat)

  • Buddhist thought (though I do not call myself a Buddhist)

  • Chopin!!!!  This

  • Listening to Alan Watts &/or Eckhart Tolle on YouTube

  • Making charitable donations to groups that do good, practical work for people desperate for assistance

  • Reading Pema Chödrön (the ‘Pocket Pema Chödrön’ can be found here. What a treasure!)

  • Silence

  • Solitude (e.g. mini-retreats from “the world”; even just a day or half-day helps!)

  • Walking / Nature

p.p.s. If you want to read a humdinger of a book that will amaze & inspire you, & also give you lots of ideas as to how you might help your fellow humans in these unprecedented times, you could do worse than pick up The Death Class - A True Story About Life, by Erika Hayasaki. Holy. What a story! What a collection of stories! Lives affected by tragedy; strength, courage and inspiration galore. I am sooooo glad this book dropped into my lap!!!

 

A few semi-random quotations that jumped out at me kind of arbitrarily….

“It is not genius, nor glory, nor love that reflects the greatness of the human soul; it is kindness.” – Henri-Dominique Lacordair

“There is not a problem with the system. The system is the problem.” – Source unknown

“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

“It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of Destiny can be handled at a time.” – Winston Churchill

“The Master’s tools will never dismantle the Master’s house.” – Audre Lorde

“Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet.” – Alice Walker

“Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.” – Simone Weil

“My own definition of Dada: an insane lyrical impulse to remain light and carefree, always looking for something to wonder or marvel at, or love, or laugh at, but always remaining illogical and joyous in a world gone mad with too much logic, seriousness, science, newspapers, war, and destruction.” – Irving Stettner

Life is short! Break the rules!

Forgive quickly! Kiss slowly!

Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably. 

And never regret anything that made you smile.

 “We Americans are locked in an asylum for the criminally insane with the criminally insane, and they are armed to the hilt. We are in a dangerous place. Yet we continue to call ourselves free. Psychosis and delusion is not freedom.” – Charles Sullivan in ‘Contesting the Systems of Power’ 

Susan Sarandon, when asked for advice to would-be activists: “People single me out for being an activist, but I always say that the impulse is inborn – it just needs to be nurtured. It starts when you’re little, and you see some kids being unkind to another kid on the bus. Maybe you do something. Maybe you don’t. But there was that hint in your brain that something was wrong, that you weren’t comfortable with the situation. Throughout your life, you have the opportunity to learn from that experience, to react to that little voice inside of you that says something has crossed your moral bottom line, to ignore what others are telling you to do and honor your impulse. The very core of your being an activist is being true to yourself.” – In Utne Reader, May/June 2002 issue

“You can blame people who knock things over in the dark, or you can begin to light candles. You’re only at fault if you know about the problem and choose to do nothing.” – Paul Hawken, entrepreneur & author, The Sun (April 2002) – quoted in July/Aug. 2002 issue of Utne Reader

** quotes about grief

** quotes about NTE (near-term extinction)

** Great resources in the NTE Resources section

** many musings about grief & NTE in the Collections posting

** I keep a copy of this on my fridge to remind me of my obligation to ACT. Along with a copy of ‘   Do Something for Somebody Quick   .’ Quotations about action    here   .

** I keep a copy of this on my fridge to remind me of my obligation to ACT. Along with a copy of ‘Do Something for Somebody Quick.’ Quotations about action here.

Are These the “End Times?”

Well, I believe they are.

I also believe more & more of us know this is so – though very few will say so publicly. Even if they know it in their bones (as more & more of us now do). “Public figures,” I think, are simply unable to voice such a thought/belief out loud.

It would be very “unseemly.”

Apparently.

Biggest elephant in the room ever, eh???

Whoa.

Elephant in the room!.jpeg

Well. Whatever.

I for one don’t need any public figure or “leader” to tell me what is as clear to me as the nose on my face. (I might add that in decades of activism, I have witnessed very little evidence of honesty & truth-telling by so-called “leaders” of any kind. Actually, very little leadership, either, as far as that goes!)

For the record, I did not come to this view lightly, or overnight. 30+ years of paying pretty close attention to climate change (& as an activist on quite a variety of environmental issues), with nary a sign of even a dent to widespread (both public & official) apathy/denial … not to mention the ever-hysterically-ramping corporate rape & pillage & takeover of governments & media … well … things seem just like pretty much the inevitable to me, really.

BAU- Business as Usual.jpg
End of world cartoon.jpg

Listen: I don’t need to convince you or anyone about this. If you’re there with me already, you are, & if you deny it, nothing I can say is going to change your mind.

This is actually a musing on “What are we supposed to do we do now?” rather than an “I feel like I need to convince you” piece.

….

Life is still very, very good …. is it not?

The world is still surprisingly, stunningly beautiful & amazing … is it not?

In fact, is it not really a miracle, surely, that we are still here at all??? I am certainly inclined to think so! Considering the rate at which our species has cheerfully poisoned the heck out of air – water – Earth – food – our own bodies - literally, really, waging warfare on everything that is life-giving, life-sustaining & wondrous (as well as on one another, for millennia, of course) … I say it is a miracle we are still here at all!

So. There’s that.

What, then, are we to do?

Journalist Dahr Jamail says Climate Crisis Forces Us to Ask: To What Do We Devote Ourselves? <May 6/19> I recommend reading the piece!

You can also watch a really good lecture by him ‘Update on the State of the Planet: How Then Shall We Live?’

This long article, ‘So What if We’re Doomed?’ is also soooo well worth the read!! It’s long. Takes you on a bit of a roller coaster. Ultimately? It’s … cheering! Uplifting. (I kid you not!)

I say, let’s celebrate our incredibly good fortune in still being here! In being alive at all!

We can of course be sad (or angry; or both) about the state of things.

I am both of these things, & also fully in favour of really feeling the feelings that I feel … if you will. (Some of my friends seem to want to fast-forward through, or past, feelings of sadness & grief. Not me.) I think we need to really feel the righteous, appropriate anger & grief … which means going down out of our heads & into our hearts.  

Grief work needed.jpg

In this article, The Greatest Danger, Joanna Macy says:

“Acknowledging despair, on the other hand, involves nothing more mysterious than telling the truth about what we see and know and feel is happening to our world. When corporate-controlled media keep the public in the dark, and power-holders manipulate events to create a climate of fear and obedience, truth-telling is like oxygen. It enlivens and returns us to health and vigor.” – Joanna Macy

Some of us (I among them) indeed feel frequently angry about it all. These few short words can help us understand that, I think.

Grief and rage.JPG

Now, I chose to spend decades mostly channelling my anger into activism … & I have no regrets about that. I’m still an activist, actually. (Why? Well, Activism Rocks! for one thing.)

& really, activism is so engaging, I recommend some form of it to everyone!

A thousand important things still need doing. Still need our attention.

I feel pretty sure we can’t halt climate change or even slow it down, now. I think it’s on, like, mega-mega steroids, & holds much deep nastiness in store for us & the planet already … even if we were to stop adding to the problem, say, last week … which pretty clearly wasn’t ever going to happen. In my view, whatever “tipping points” there were, we whistled heedlessly by quite a long time ago now. Please note too, it is not just climate change we are dealing with. Insane politics everywhere & many other environmental problems … all now acting synergistically. There is a lot going on.

BUT.

Millions are hungry. Millions are suffering. Waves of climate refugees are on the move right now.

& there are an awful lot of ways folks can help.

We can commit time, money, our voices … or all three … to worthwhile initiatives that provide practical help to people who are alive on the planet now.

Do you know what the most valuable gift has been of my many years of activism?

The satisfaction of working with good people on worthwhile tasks.

Even when our efforts failed … as they all too often did, & do.

I generally just call the phenomenon solidarity.

The rewards are more emotional, almost – certainly intangible … definitely not material.

It’s about moving away from the illusion of separation … toward connection, hmmmm?

Albert Einstein said:

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us Universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ~ Albert Einstein, quoted in The Great Turning – From Empire to Earth Community, by David Korten ** some more great Einstein quotes here

 & Eve Ensler, this: “Separateness is such a delusional idea. What many of us try to work toward now is understanding that our bodies are not separate from ourselves, our bodies are not separate from the earth, and they are not separate from each other. There is this sense of binaries, of division, of brokenness. People are not understanding that they are part of the same human family.” “When you’re in community, you begin to not be separate. You begin to be your right size. You’re not too small and you’re not too big. You’re just the right size within that community. When you’re alone, you’re either terribly diminished or utterly grandiose, you know?” – the amazing Eve Ensler, quoted in an interview published in the Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar, July 2019

The other night, walking along Bloor St. in Toronto, I saw this quote on a church billboard:

 “Our deepest need is the need to leave the prison of our aloneness.” – Eric Fromm

 & I think this is true.

Alienation, surely, is the biggest malady & curse among our species. Activism is an excellent antidote to despair & alienation!! Activism, btw, can take in a great variety of things! It just means DOING stuff. Helping make the world - or someone else’s life - a little better, or easier. To me, it just means being ACTIVE, as opposed to passive.

 I wrote in my posting ‘Spiderwebs & Kool-Aid’

“If we’re going down the drain

(certainly looks that way, hmmmm?)

Please … can we at least do it holding hands??”

Orwell on staying human copy.jpg

Let’s be kind.

Let’s be generous.

Let’s be grateful for the many blessings of our own lives …. & of Life itself.

*** For the record… The climate shit, I am sorry to report (I expect you have noticed?) is hitting the fan hard now. (See ‘Monster Climate-Change Essay’ here for a soul-crushing barrage of climate info, feedback loops, etc. And lots of climate impact news - enough to make one feel ill, almost - in the Near Term Human Extinction Evidence Group a Facebook group you can find easily if you’re on Facebook; maybe even if you’re not! Forewarned is forearmed: it’s all pretty tough stuff. I don’t spend much time focusing on the scary climate news. It can certainly lead one to despair & dread, & I frankly don’t wish to spend my time in that kind of mental / emotional space.

As the author of the Monster Climate Essay, Guy McPherson, has said,

“The shit is no longer hitting the fan. The fan is covered in shit. The shit is hitting the shit.” 

** Note: many good quotes related to NTE (near-term extinction) can be found here

These times are parlous, to be sure.

And precious!

Let’s make good use of ourselves!

Helpful posting: ‘Do Something for Somebody Quick!

& this:

This is from Dahr Jamail’s lecture    Update on the State of the Planet: How Then Shall We Live?
Service is the only response.jpg

** To be clear, for the record, I am not a “religious” person (in quotes ‘cos I am not really sure what the term means. It’s a pretty debatable term, I think. It may well not mean the same thing to you as it does to me).

Meaning, I have no expectations of heaven or hell when I die.

For me, it’s all about now. Making use of myself now. Reaping my “rewards” now.

I believe the time is short.

Let’s not waste it!

Whatever time remains.

Janet

p.s. Guy McPherson gave this talk to some New York City politicians recently about it being time for planetary hospice. Text here. Video here.

p.p.s. I’ve been writing about NTE – near-term extinction – for several years now. Also, about grief. If you go the Collections posting here & scroll down, you’ll find plenty there – including links to quotations & resources (&, in the case of NTE, some graphics also).

p.p.p.s. As for the job of “connecting the dots,” I do not advise waiting for “leaders” or the mainstream media to do this for you. Nor the corporations, nor “the government,” needless to say. Not gonna happen!

It’s up to you!

Gather evidence.

Consider the facts.

Then …

#ConnectTheDots

Knowing nothing is cripping.jpg

& to be quite clear:

Yes: the truth is heartbreaking.

Gutwrenching!

Absolutely it is.

But pretending it’s not happening?

Can that really make sense??

Seems like madness to me, to deny what is right in front of our faces.

It’s a lot easier to breathe, in my view, when you speak the truth.

I once heard Joanna Macy say:

“Telling the truth is like making oxygen.” ** lots more truth quotes

Totally resonated for me at the time. Still does.

p.p.p.p.s. I suppose it takes a while to digest this. Me, I’ve had decades of preparation … & I suppose I tend to forget that others are much newer to the party … as it were. I have made my “peace” with it. (I call it a “rocky” peace.) I hope some of the entries in the Collections posting (remember: it includes resources & quotations about both NTE & grief), can be helpful.

** Sagan was a scientist. There are many quotations about science      here     .

** Sagan was a scientist. There are many quotations about science here.

Sagan on truth copy.jpg
I’ve heard the phrase “urgent joy” used. Seems sensible to me. Everything feels kind of urgent, now. You know??

I’ve heard the phrase “urgent joy” used. Seems sensible to me. Everything feels kind of urgent, now. You know??

Relevant Quotation

“When I speak of these struggles, people invariably call me “a downer” and “too negative.” I used to believe that was true, that I was being depressing by pushing these issues, but I have come to see that claim inverts reality. In fact, I’m the positive one—by placing my faith in our collective ability to bear the truth that is beyond bearing, I am affirming the best aspects of our humanity . . . Those who demand that we ignore the painful questions are, in fact, the downers—the people stuck in negativity, the ones who have no faith in themselves or others to face reality honestly.” – Robert Jensen in this article After the Harvest — Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully

** lots more great quotations about near-term extinction

AND…….. The NTE Resources section has a lot of really good stuff in it!!

Plans & plenty: A musing on waste

Or … plenty in the midst of waste

Waste in the midst of plenty…

I could start by saying that my life did not, has not, turned out according to my careful plans. (Okay. Let’s be honest here. My plans were not all that careful. They were actually pretty vague, now that I come to think of it. I really just wanted to save the world … & live happily ever after.)

And … whose life does go according to plan?? Do we know anyone whose life has??

I could start by saying that plans are neat, but life is messy. But I already wrote that essay some years back. Plans = Neat. Life = Messy.

I could mention that this quotation resonates for me utterly:

“My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.” Oliver Sacks, doctor, neurologist, prolific author, in his book Gratitude – essays written during his last 2 years of life

 As does this one:

“I was stunned. I was, and I knew it, an ordinary person who long after he was grown up retained the childhood assumption that the people who largely control our lives are somehow better informed than, and have judgment superior to, the rest of us; that they are more intelligent. Not until Vietnam did I finally realize that some of the most important decisions of all time can be made by men knowing really no more than, and who are not more intelligent than, most of the rest of us. That it was even possible that my own opinions and judgment could be as good as and maybe better than a politician’s who made a decision of profound consequence. Some of that childhood awe and acceptance of authority remained, and while I was sitting … it seemed presumptuous that ordinary Simon Morley should question the judgment of this board. And of the men in Washington who agreed with it. Yet I knew I had to. And was going to.” (from the amazing novel 'Time and Again' by Jack Finney - published in 1970)

I could point out that my own personal “This changes everything” moment occurred when my 20-year “perfect” marriage blew up in my face.

It really did change everything! For me… for my children. It was a huge line in the sand to be propelled across. Nothing has been “the same” since. (The fallout was/is extraordinary.)

I could say that for a long time, I was prepared to take all the blame (Hell: I was prepared to take 500% of the blame!) for the failure of that marriage … & long since now no longer do. I understand it all better now. It’s complicated. Pedestals are involved. & other things. & also this:

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), Danish philosopher

I think now that maybe the big mistake I had made was in thinking my (then) husband & I & our family were not “ordinary people.” I think I thought we were extraordinary people. (Just the usual delusions of grandeur, I suppose.)

Now I just think there has been one awful hell of a lot of waste in my life - & I the person who abhors waste of any kind, & thinks the very worst human species fault is that of being so horrifically ginormously inexplicably unforgivably appallingly wasteful!

& of course

  • All of it

  • All of it

  • All of it

has taken place in a particular context

at a particular (rather extraordinary)

time period in the history of the human species.

 

We were not extraordinary at all

My ex-husband & I!

We were as ordinary as grass.

(Ordinary people living in extraordinary times, perhaps)

As wasteful & deluded – as individuals

As our species has shown itself to be

On the species level.

 

I personally believe it is all not merely heart-breaking.

It is tragic.

Gut-wrenchingly AWFUL.

 

And all this waste

Smack in the midst of plenty!

A planet that might as well be called Eden.

As indeed it was, I reckon, in the now-rather-distant past.

Beauty.

Abundance.

Generosity

So huge

One cannot even really get one’s mind around it!

 

Well.

I am gobsmacked & horrified

& heartbroken

(though I’m sure it is not considered quite acceptable

to say so publicly

but I just don’t feel like apologizing for excessive honesty.

We have already established that I am weird, after all…)

Horrified & gobsmacked & heartbroken at both the unexpected tragedies that came/have come to plague my own little life

… & at the parade of greed-waste-stupidity-violence

Our species has likely become known for – notorious for perhaps?

Across the Universe?

 …..

& still.

Still!

#WeAreStillHere!

…..

** I wrote this while out on a walk, pausing to sit on a bench by the lake on a simply stunning Sunday, the last day of June 2019 – in the midst of a climate chaos Big Picture Blowout that will ultimately, I firmly & sadly believe, lay waste to us all – all of us, species-wide. In time. (Likely sooner than we think, I think.)

Still, & always.

The simple habits of

walking

& gratitude

pretty much

save my ass!

Whatever it is or was I may have “planned”

for this little life

of mine

That of course was never really “mine” at all

Was it???? Nor was it, or is it, so “little.”

We are vast!

Janet

p.s. I heard the amazing Joanna Macy speak in Toronto about 10 years ago … & posted about it here. She said “Our roots, our true nature – is vast.” & that resonates for me … still. Sadly, we have made ourselves small. Getting caught up in ego (& separation) has made us small. But never mind. We can each still get in touch with the vastness. If we choose.

p.p.s. other things #savemyasstoo. Food. Beer. Friends. Loved ones. Music. Books. Activism. Trees. Water. Birds. #lifeisrich!

A Few Quotations that Spring to Mind

“Apology is a lovely perfume; it can transform the clumsiest moment into a gracious gift.” – Margaret Lee Runbeck

“Fate deals the cards, but you play the hand.” – Anonymous

“Don’t fight forces – use them.” – Buckminster Fuller

“It is better to be alone than to be living at half throttle.” – Marianne Williamson in A Woman’s Worth

“…the world sometimes feels like the waiting room of the emergency ward and that we who are  more or less OK for now need to take the tenderest possible care of the more wounded people in the waiting room, until the healer comes. You sit with people, she said, you bring them juice and graham crackers.” From Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott

“It’s funny: I always imagined when I was a kid that adults had some kind of inner toolbox, full of shiny tools: the saw of discernment, the hammer of wisdom, the sandpaper of patience. But then when I grew up I found that life handed you these rusty bent old tools – friendships, prayer, conscience, honesty – and said, ‘Do the best you can do with these, they will have to do.’ And mostly, against all odds, they’re enough.”    From Traveling Mercies – Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott

“Separateness is such a delusional idea. What many of us try to work toward now is understanding that our bodies are not separate from ourselves, our bodies are not separate from the earth, and they are not separate from each other. There is this sense of binaries, of division, of brokenness. People are not understanding that they are part of the same human family.” “When you’re in community, you begin to not be separate. You begin to be your right size. You’re not too small and you’re not too big. You’re just the right size within that community. When you’re alone, you’re either terribly diminished or utterly grandiose, you know?” – the amazing Eve Ensler, quoted in an interview published in the Buddhist magazine Lion’s Roar, July 2019