Usually during the holidays I catch the frenzied good cheer from everyone else and wind myself up to make merry. This year, I just can’t seem to find the spark.
Maybe it’s a case of SAD (seasonable affective disorder). Maybe it’s the fact that it’s the first holiday after my divorce was finalized, and that new reality is sinking in. Maybe it’s the gloomy state of the economy, which is certainly negatively affecting my financial outlook.
But I think it goes deeper and broader than these personal issues.
I feel like I’m grieving, but not for any one person. I’m grieving for the loss of my future, and all of our futures. Even as I stoutly maintain that we can’t give up hope, and we need to keep fighting, there is something in me that keens, heartbroken, for the huge loss that we all face.
It’s already started, the great dying-off.
I keep remembering a certain perfect May morning in my childhood, when I waded out into the deep, fragrant grass under the old, half-wild apple trees, which were glorious in full pink-and-white bloom. I lay in a grassy nest under one of the trees–no worries about ticks and Lyme disease in those days–looking up at the blossoms outlined against the startling blue of the sky. The petals rustled gently in the breeze, and the sound of thousands of busy buzzing honey bees filled the air. Watching carefully, I could see the bees moving from blossom to blossom, carrying their saddlebags full of bright golden pollen. My heart swelled with the sheer joy of being alive in that moment, a part of the humming life of that orchard on that beautiful spring day.
Flash forward to last spring, when I went out into the same old orchard on another lovely May morning, and was aghast to realize that not a single bee was working the blossoms of the tree. The silence was frightening, like the desolate silence of a wasteland, though visually it all looked very much the same.
This is just one small example of so many countless instances of the glorious richness of life on our planet, profoundly and irrevocably being silenced.
So yes, I am grieving. And I am angry. And I do not know the best way to try to head off the end that seems so inevitable now.
Sometimes it feels like I’m living in a sci-fi movie, where everything seems so hopeless, the bad guys are winning…and then at the last moment, the heroes sweep in and save the day. I want to believe that we can be those heroes. Perhaps it will be like the TV series “Heroes,” where many of us who are preparing ourselves now for the fight will come together and really be able to make a difference.
But I don’t count on it. Because, in large part, the “bad guys” are us. We’re doing this to the planet. The laptop I type on is part of the problem, the electric lights I just strung up on my porch are part of the problem, the car I drive is part of the problem.
What would it mean, really, to stop being one of the bad guys? To become one of the vast army of everyday heroes needed to save this planet?
I keep asking this question, and I will keep asking it until the answer becomes clear. I feel I am taking some sort of step in the right direction just by asking the question in this public forum, seeking out like-minded people who may have answers I could not come to on my own.
I know we need each other now, more than ever. The old individualist way of doing things is part of the problem. Interconnection should be the buzzword of the second decade of this century. As the planet heats up, our survival will depend on our being able to cooperate and collaborate on adapting to the new, much harsher environment.
Sometimes I have moments of hysteria, when I feel like I’ve been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and need to decide how I want to spend my last days. Maybe this isn’t so hysterical after all…this may be a rather sober assessment of the way things stand.
Of course, we are all living under a life sentence, all the time! But I no longer feel I can count on living into old age, dying a natural death. Saving for retirement seems like a pipe dream, left over from a 20th century mindset that no longer makes sense.
The only antidote I know for the grief and depression born of full apprehension of the reality of our very bleak and uncertain future is simply this: carpe diem, seize the day.
Unless we ordinary heroes come together to create a mighty and unstoppable wave of change very soon, the planet will heat up beyond our comfort zone, causing severe weather that will send us floods, famine, conflict and extinctions on a biblical scale.
Yes, ultimately the planet will regenerate, and new forms of life will emerge. But we will not be here to play our part–to love, appreciate, tend and respect the other living beings on Earth.
It is too soon to give in to grief. I will shake it off, rouse myself, continue as long as I can to stand up and be counted among the opposition to the terrible destruction that our way of life has visited on so many others on this planet.
Meet me out in the apple orchard, listening for the bees….