Carolyn Baker was one of the first people I read who helped me accept our current reality, one of the first people who gave me hope that I wasn't losing my sanity but actually finding it, one of the first people who offered me a new vision of ways I might pesonally respond to the situation at hand. I have intended to write her for months and let her know what a positive impact she's made on my life, but I haven't done it. I know why and I'm working on that particular fear.
Carolyn believes that collapse offers humanity a rare opportunity at this time - an opportunity to become reinitiated into the earth community. Carolyn has identified several possible responses to learning about collapse which she categorizes as either "initiated" or "uninitiated". We all begin from an uninitiated perspective. I prefer to categorize them as "before" and "after". Before we learn about what's happening, how could we possibly be expected to respond in a mature way? And after? Well, that's up to us.
Entitlement: This should not be happening to me. I have worked very hard in my life and
deserve to be gainfully employed doing meaningful work.
Positive Attitude: You can wallow in gloom and doom if you want but I'm going to maintain a positive outlook. I'm afraid I'll get depressed and won't be able to dig myself out of an emotional dungeon.
Solutions: There are solutions to these problems. Technology and human ingenuity will lead the way.
Sustainability: If enough people recycle, cut carbon emissions, buy green products and use renewable energy, we can prevent the collapse of civilization.
Delay: I deal with problems when they happen instead of obsessing about them ahead of time. I'll take action when I need to.
Present Moment: It's important to live in the here and now right now and right now my family and I are okay. It's mentally unhealthy to be thinking and talking about the collapse of civilization.
Love/Fear: I want to take action, but I don't want to do so out of fear. Fear is not a good motivator. I prefer to focus on love and compassion.
It's so interesting when I run into these responses in the real world and I do all the time. I'm finding that the majority of people with whom I discuss collapse are responding with Solutions. I hung onto that one until the Gulf spill. Now it's obvious to me that we do not have the technology to safely finish what we've begun. I also run into a lot of Sustainability, Present Moment and Love/Fear, the latter two which find their home in the current New Age spiritual paradigm.
Now let's look at the possible responses from an initiated/after perspective:
Non-special engagement with humanity: Yes, I've worked hard in my life. From that experience I've gathered many skills which will be useful to me as the earth community undergoes enormous shifts. Because I am not separate from that community and because we are all deeply connected, I am being called, along with all other beings who inhabit the planet, to not only experience these momentous changes, but to contribute my talents and skills to enhancing our common well being in the process.
A willingness to confront what is, not what I'd like it to be: I do not enjoy looking at unpleasant realities, but if I don't look, then I cannot see, and if I cannot see, I am not serving myself or anyone else. I will look, and I will feel the feelings that surface as I do so. I will remember that within the word "emotion" is the word "motion" which means that feelings are fluid and shift and change like the flow of water. Feeling sad today does not guarantee that I will feel sad tomorrow or that I will become frozen in any one emotion. I wll ask my community to look with me, and we will support one another as we do.
There may be no solutions to the issues created by humanity's greed, self-absorption and cruelty: We may be encountering a predicament that cannot be solved but only responded to. How can I and my loved ones and community best respond to these daunting challenges? How can we work together to minimize the loss of life and care for each other? If ther are no "solutions", then what does this mean? What is the message in this unprecedented reality?
The crisis the planet now faces is far more immense than responding with mere sustainability: Sustainability means that something lasts, and living sustainably is a natural and inevitable response to living in connection with the earth community. Living in this way at this late hour is unlikely to prevent the collapse of civilization. I will need feed the puerile paradigm of civilization for the sake of supporting green products because it's the "right thing to do" or because it makes me feel good. I want to live sustainably not because it will "save" the earth but because my connection with the earth community compels me to do so.
I am willing to deal with both the present and the future: It is foolish to only live n the present moment. Time is a tapestry of past, present, and future, and I need to prepare for the future as well as enjoy the present moment. Because I am an adult, I need to be mindful of the well being of myelf, my loved ones, and my community, as well as generations that will succeed me, and therefore, I cannot afford to live exclusively in the present.
Ironically, the more I consider the likely consequences of the future, the more I appreciate the here and now: Each moment, each meal, the reality of having food, shelter, health, friends, and my faculties I savor more intensely because I am aware of the likelihood that in the future, these gifts will be much harder to acquire than they are now. In fact, humans have the capacity to read the indicators of how the future might be based on compelling evidence; not to do so or having done so, then choosing not to prepare would be mentally, physically and emotionally unhealthy.
I will not polarize the emotions of love and fear: Fear in humans serves an evolutionary function to warn of impending danger so that one may take action to prevent harm. From the initiatory perspective, love and fear are complementary, not conflicting, emotions. Through fear, humans often tap into layers of courage that were previously unknown and unused. The word 'courage" has its roots in the French word "la coeur" which means heart. To have courage is to have heart and to be motivated by love and compassion.
People have been expressing concern over the direction of my writing, worried that I am taking a "doom and gloom" attitude, worried that I should stay in Positive Attitude and Present Moment, worried that I'm sidetracked from my recovery.
Simultaneous with consciously choosing an initiated response in my ownl ife, is improved mental and physical health, a real sense of empowerment and most importantly, a renewed connection with the earth community. I would say this began in earnest for me when I hunted and processed my own meat for food and was infused with an enormous sense of gratitude for the mutual synergy that is a natural relationship with our fellow creatures.
I find that my sobriety is more sustainable the more I focus on overall health: healing food, healing relationships, time to contemplate, time to play, time to work.
My wish for all of us is that as we continue to face what needs to be faced, these gifts will be activiated in all our lives.
I went through all my treatment materials recently and came across a poem I wrote while I was there. It was during my first 9 days, when I didn't sleep but an hour or two at most and that disturbed and fitful. By the end of those 9 days, I had pretty much reached full psychosis (anybody would). I remember writing this now, but I had forgotten about it until I discovered it. It's a hard poem, and really unfinished, but here it is, written in November/2009:
I have wandered through the
Blind as the colorless cave creatures
through oil-black sludge
sticky sucking sand
pulling me further into the darkness.
Where there is no light.
You have been there with me.
I couldn't see you
but the smell was unmistakable.
From within the blackness
I have seen the tiniest pinprick of light.
Let's follow it.
And see where it goes.
Pretty dark, huh? Well, except for the light at the end of the tunnel. Meanwhile, the new fawns don't seem to have a conern in the world, except frolicking in the spring daisies and keeping close to mom.