“Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts.”
This quote points to what I believe to be a major issue of our times: how do we let ourselves see all that is going on in the world and not be totally depressed?
I became acutely aware of this tension in my life when I began reading the ‘peak oil’ literature (If this term is new to you, try Richard Heinberg’s The Party’s Over; it’s been called a “peak oil primer”). I see us collectively caught on these two horns.
The planet is warming and Arctic ice is disappearing. One hundred year storms are becoming a regular occurrence. Coral reefs are dying, the oceans are acidifying, species are going extinct, forests cut or dying from beetles or other environmental pressure; plastic in the ocean. The climate is destabilized and we have created a way of living that requires more and more resources, more and more energy and produces more and more toxic output. Depressed yet? I could go on; I’m sure you could also add to this list.
Some of what I do and I see society doing, is distract ourselves: wait, I’ve got to check my smart phone, have a drink, watch TV, etc. Not that some of these things can’t be good choices in context, but they can act to keep us from “consider[ing] all the facts,” turning away from what is happening on our one precious planet because it hurts too much to look.
One of the healthier coping things I do is go to nature. It might be my backyard where I have a stone circle (six stones, four directions plus Washington, D. C.--need to send energy in that direction--and Orcas Island where I used to live and left a piece of my heart). I also find that working in my garden heals me (or just walking through it). Or I can walk a block from my back door to the Battell Woods, a 225 acre woodlot full of trails, left to us by the local 19th Century publisher and philanthropist, Joseph Battell. Or, better yet, drive fifteen minutes and walk at Spirit in Nature.
While in nature I do various meditative and ritualistic things to feel the connection and to affirm that I AM nature, I am a part of the ecosystem I walk through. I apologize to nature for my own footprint and that of my species and my country (the average per capita carbon footprint in the US is twice the average European footprint); I send love; I listen for messages or any subtle communication from the plants, rocks, sky, moss, stream, birds, etc. And notice the beauty--the incredible beauty--of rocks, trees, streams, sometimes decorated with snow--like it was today. And I am renewed.