It’s another beautiful day. The sun is shining. Bluebird sky, the green of summer taking hold of the leaves. My fragile garden framed in the distance by the verdant slopes this place is known for.
And it’s an illusion.
I started reading Bill McKibben’s Eaarth in 2012 when I was pregnant with my youngest. In it, McKibben explains how the world around us- the world that we think we see and “know” and expect to be a certain way- is an illusion. It’s a ghost world. It no longer exists the way it does in our minds.
I had to stop reading because I began to panic.
It’s time to panic
And so I put the climate tragedy out of my mind. It was too big for me to handle. I felt powerless and overwhelmed. As I awaited the birth of my final child I did not have the capacity to grapple with the mortal wounds we’ve inflicted on our Mother.
And I forgot. Sort of.
About a month ago I woke up again. And the most terrible part is that things are much worse than they were before. And we are still hurtling toward extinction at an ever-quickening pace. Exponential.
This is so big. It’s so big that my mind doesn’t know what to do with it. Accepting a terminal diagnosis of a loved one (been there) or for yourself (haven’t been there yet) is a life-altering experience. Clarity emerges. Priorities shift. The colors of life become more deeply saturated, vibrant, precious. Each moment becomes one to savor.
How do we accept a terminal diagnosis for humanity and most other life on the planet?
Swirls of emotions float through my body like oil on a puddle. Iridescent rainbows swooping and dancing across the surface of my heart. Lightness and darkness. Joy and grief.
All the beauty of this place. This life. This world.
As someone who made it her mission to not feel emotions for the past few decades (not recommended, by the way), this is really tough. Grief is a feeling I have done almost everything to avoid.
Grief is welcome here
The pain of this reckoning is almost unbearable. I remember this when I get frustrated at loved ones who dismiss the conversation with an I know, yeah, it’s bad, we’re fucked.
I did that too.
I don’t really know what to do anymore, but try to face the truth. To wake up each morning (thank god) and look out my window upon the sun rising over the slopes, and remember. To live in this moment, sun on my face and grass between my toes. And sometimes the preciousness of it all overwhelms me. And I cry.
Welcoming grief, welcoming joy
Funny thing, it seems the opposite of grief is joy. And when you let grief in, joy comes too.
In a strange turn of events, I have experienced more joy than I have in years by opening myself to this grief. They are strange twins, and sometimes they visit me simultaneously. The moments of the most beauty hold the most pain. I’m pretty sure it was always this way, I just worked hard not to know.
I’m trying to remember that these are the good old days. And live them as such.