“But what it comes down to is that we are here now. So the choice is how to live now. With the little time left, we could wake up more. We could allow this whole experience of the planet, which is intrinsically rewarding, to manifest through our heart-minds—so that the planet may see itself, so that life may see itself. And we can bless it in some way. So there is some source of blessing on us, even as we die. I think of a Korean monk who said “Sunsets are beautiful too, not just sunrises.” We can do it beautifully. If we are going to go out, then we can do it with some nobility, generosity and beauty, so we do not fall into shock and fear.” – Joanna Macy on how to prepare internally for whatever comes next
(not all of us with benign or generous or unselfish or Life-enhancing thoughts & schemes, hmmm?)
How can anyone … in her/his wildest imaginings? … imagine it possible
For 7 billion different worlds
To be “sustainable”
On this one, very-very beautiful, stunningly abundant … but oh-so-finite planet?
‘Quote of the day’ with this post:
“I wonder if she remembers that gift as well as I do. We didn’t have so many things in those days. There weren’t so many things to have. There was more to look forward to, but less to possess. It’s the other way round now.” – main character in the novel The Seven Sisters, by Margaret Drabble
“If a thing is never spoken between people who know each other well, and each knows the thing well, maybe it’s not a secret. …. It’s a powerful thing, that ability to tell the truth when the truth is upon you, but it has another power entirely when you don’t tell it.” – Stephen Jenkinson in Die Wise – A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul
Not gonna to lie to you. I feel heartbroken a lot of the time lately.
There are, of course, many, many reasons to feel this way.
(((I used to feel mad – or even occasionally outraged – a lot. I actually used to have a bumper sticker on my car that read ‘If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.’ That goes back a while… 🙂 Now, I mostly feel sad – but beyond sad, as I say. Heartbroken.)))
***** Interjection! Walking helps a lot. Being detached from my “devices” (laptop, email, Facebook, the Internet) helps too. Little kids & trees, also. (Well, & the lake, of course.) & music. & time with friends/loved ones, & walking. (Did I already mention walking?? 🙂 🙂 )
So. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (April 26, 1986). Still identified by many “experts” as the worst nuclear disaster ever – due (I think) to the extremely widespread geographical dispersion of its nuclear payload – on land. Fukushima is of course a monumental disaster/catastrophe also; some may speak of the great good fortune (for people) that so much of the fallout in Japan was blown toward the ocean, given the wind direction at the time, & less on land. (Good for people maybe; maybe not so good for the life/critters in the ocean, hmmm?)
Well. Those are details.
Go ahead & split hairs if you feel so inclined.
Fact is, the environmental disaster aspect pales (almost) beside the human impacts.
Meaning, the ongoing contamination in the air – the water – the soils – people’s food – the trees & plants & crops – & in people & critters’ bodies.
Particularly the bodies of children.
Last night, I watched a 43-minute documentary called ‘Children of Chernobyl 28 years later: a report on low level, long term radiation exposure’ – made in 2014 by a Japanese documentary filmmaker. About the long-term, ever-ongoing health impacts of the Chernobyl disaster – on the children of Ukraine (& Belarus & Russia, the areas of highest fallout).
Note that the impacts described in this documentary are not from a disaster that took place yesterday afternoon, or last year, or 5 or even 15 years ago – but 30 years ago.
Radiation / fallout = the ‘gift’ that goes on ‘giving.’ Genetic legacy, hmmm?
Human beings have done – continue to do daily – things so colossally stupid, thoughtless, cruel, malicious, dangerous and life-destroying – that I have to tell you, it just plain boggles my mind.
After (in my own case) just under 30 years of environmental activism.
For some reason, duct tape came into my mind this morning.
I used to say I had to wear duct tape over my mouth when I lived up in Deep River.
As in, Do.Not.Talk.About.Nukes. (Most people in the exceptionally beautiful community on the Ottawa River – surrounded by Nature in stunning beauty & variety – make their livings from the nuclear industry. One simply does not diss nukes in Deep River. It.Is.Not.Done.)
You could call it living in a bubble. Some there know very well they do. (I know, ‘cos several folks said as much to me, without my ever prompting them.)
But then, as far as that goes, we’re all living in a bubble, hmmm?
99.9% of us, seemingly.
(see next post)
Now, I’d had to wear duct tape back in my married years. I was not really able to speak honestly about the truth, the whole truth, & nothing but the whole, real depth of the environmental crisis – what I saw coming for our species, down the road, & what I believed needed to be done about it; how to respond.
One still can’t, not really. Duct tape is still required. Truth is not on the menu, mostly.
Because we are delusional. (see next post)
Duct tape is mighty handy stuff. Don’t go out in a canoe without it!!
One day I was OIAC – out in a canoe – with friends.
A slight mishap occurred, & DT was needed to patch things up.
Fortunately, I’d obeyed my own commandment about when one is OIAC, & had some DT in my day pack.
Duct tape saved the day! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Now I wear (metaphorical) DT 99.9% of the time – because people don’t really want to hear the truth about the extreme perilousness of things on PE (Planet Earth).
Because We Are Delusional. (see next post)
Fortunately, we all have the sanctity, the privacy, the privilege
of our own thoughts.
I don’t have to wear duct tape over my brain, my own thoughts.
I can let it all hang out in there.
Hallelulia for that!
p.s. I decided not to post the We Are Delusional post. ‘cos it’s kind of a rant. I’ll spare everyone that particular (somewhat rage-based) rant. 🙂
She’s one of the relatively few people to whom I’m able to say (mild-ish) things about near-term extinction – the human extinction I believe almost everyone now accepts is coming – though there is certainly a wide range of opinions about the timeframe & likely speed of events/impact (some folks, of course, just plain deny its possibility – yet with little real credibility, wouldn’t you say??).
Does anyone really believes All Is Well Here On Planet Earth? – & that we can assume much of anything, really, about what’s coming in our own lifetimes, on the global level?
Some of the people I know are advising Brace For Impact, & I’d have to say, this counsel strikes me as wise. The climate stuff going on all around us is #OffTheCharts. & economic chaos is likely also headed our way (or jeeze, already here…).
So. We were chatting, this friend & I, as I say. My friend gave a summary of what she believes are the things that Really Matter.
& I thought
Wow. Yeah. Now there’s a nice tight little summary, hmmmm?
She & I are both crazy about trees & forests, pretty much, love to bike & cross-country ski &/or be out in a kayak or canoe. Nature-lovers. (Lots of people these daze seem to think life exists inside one device or another, & don’t seem to be noticing the planet going down in flames around us – the dying trees, oceans, species, habitat loss, runaway climate change, etc. etc. etc. Oblivious’R We, apparently.)
So. Nature – upon which we all rely utterly, dudes, hmmm? – though perhaps not all realize this??
Air for breathing
Water for drinking
Earth for growing food in
Yet here we are, trashing it all, fit to beat the band
at a furious rate
(furious both in terms of speed & ferocity)
& have been doing so for 1000s of years now (no, it isn’t a new phenomenon; it’s just that with our exponential population growth, our impacts too have become exponential)
Pity we’ve made/keep making such a horrific mess of both, mostly.
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “My predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been give 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
“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Viktor Frankl
p.s. NTE section of the blog here. Links to resources you can consult (plenty of ‘em!), some pithy quotations … even a support group! 🙂 There are postings on grief, here & here. Grief is for real. We’re allowed to be sad! (I think we’d have to be made of stainless steel, not to feel grief about what’s going on all around us … don’t you??)
So, I’ve long had this lovely quotation in my collection:
“The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.” – Victor Frankl
(2 other Frankl gems I came across when I did the search in my Quotes document:
“Success, like happiness, cannot be pursued. It must ensue. And it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself.” – Victor Frankl
“What is to give light must endure burning.” – Victor Frankl)
& then this morning, I caught part of a short documentary about Frankl, on CBC Radio.
The man was an amazing one!! So glad I caught most of that documentary! 🙂 It’s here.
Oliver Sacks said this, that I greatly appreciate, & keep sharing with people:
“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
Now me, I did not know all this when I launched into motherhood. I was as ignorant of all these environmental threats/toxins as the day, as they say, is long. I was positively starry-eyed in those long-ago days. Heck, I still believed in fairy tales! “Happily ever after” & all that jazz.
Since my children (long since no longer children) were young, I’ve been learning about the various & assorted, myriad ways in which our immune systems are attacked & become compromised by exposure to all these awful (invariably invisible) substances.
Nasty! 🙁 Ugh! Let me count the ways.
I ask you: Did any of us ask for, desire, expect or consent to ANY of this?
Emphatically, emphatically not.
Not not not not not. 🙁 🙁 🙁
So now what??
Well. Here we are, all of us, living together in something of a toxic soup, now … hmmm? It’s sort of crummy or churlish of me to point this out – especially as we surely all know it anyway, on some level, at least, & are perhaps just doing our best in a vague & pathetic sort of way to pretend we don’t. Just all of us kind of treading water … as it were?
Yet I am a stubborn truth-teller, & do think it’s pretty much impossible to lead a sane & balanced life if we are all the time going around telling ourselves whoppers from one end of the day to the other.
(Granted I am an oddball; not much of a consumer or shopper, & a stubborn non-TV-owner/watcher. I am not a big fan of what loosely passes for culture these days, I guess it would be safe to say.)
Yet I am also a cheerful & often joyful person in the face of all this. Because I walk daily, smile at strangers (especially children & dogs 🙂 ), practice gratitude daily (or, well, at least often!!), see folks I care about as often as possible, laugh whenever possible, do work that has great meaning for me (environmental activism), sing sometimes (should do so more!) & choose to eat organic (as opposed to non-organic) food whenever possible.
So, while I may be a genetically-modified organism, & my immune system (like that of the planet’s) is daily more & more compromised, I’m doing my best not to add unnecessarily to the load of toxins in my body.
It seems all too likely we are going down as a species (likely quite a bit sooner than we think), as I allude to often enough in postings on this blog, but…
We still have now!
This body of water.
These loved ones.
This moment of laughter.
This plate of nourishing food.
We’re ALL GMOs.
Let’s have a party! 🙂 🙂 🙂
… & be as decent as possible to each other, & the planet, as we can manage, while we are still here.
“The most revolutionary thing one can do is always to proclaim loudly what is happening.” – Rosa Luxemburg
“When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience, and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; culture-death is a clear possibility.” – Neil Postman
Tom Robbins on “crazy wisdom”: “Crazy wisdom is the wisdom that evolves when one, while refusing to avert one’s gaze from the sorrows and injustices of the world, insists on joy in spite of everything. Ancient Egyptians believed that when a person died, the gods immediately placed his or her heart in one pan of a set of scales. In the other pan was a feather. If there was imbalance, if the heart of the deceased weighed more than the feather, he or she was denied admittance to the afterworld. Only the lighthearted were deemed advanced enough to merit immortality.”
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “Just sit down and be quiet. You are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.” – Rumi, 13th century Sufi mystic & poet
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” – Helen Keller
On nothing being what we thought: “The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought. I can say that with great confidence. Emptiness is not what we thought. Neither is mindfulness or fear. Compassion – not what we thought. Love. Buddha nature. Courage. These are code words for things we don’t know in our minds, but any of us could experience them. These are words that point to what life really is when we let things fall apart and let ourselves be nailed to the present moment.” – Pema Chödrön in the chapter ‘Intimacy with Fear’ in When Things Fall Apart – Heart Advice for Difficult Times (1997)
“It is one of the beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely help another without helping himself.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In helping others we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us.” – Flora Edwards
“A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.” – Henrik Ibsen
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.” ~ Antoine de St. Exupéry in The Little Prince
“Tho’ much is taken, much abides.” – Tennyson
Thomas Merton said it best: “Do not depend on the hope of results. You may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. You gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.” (quoted by Carolyn Baker in her book review of the Guy McPherson book Going Dark)
“Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and social activist, once said that as he grew older he came to understand that it was not ideas that change the world but simple gestures of love given to the people around you, and often to those you feel most at odds with. He said that in order to save the world you must serve the people in your life. ‘You gradually struggle less and less for an idea,’ Merton wrote, ‘and more and more for specific people. In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.’” – from Broken Open – How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow, by Elizabeth Lesser
When asked why the cellist is risking his life every day to play his cello on the street in the spot where 22 people were killed while waiting at a bakery to buy bread, the character Dragan says to Emina, “Maybe he’s playing for himself. Maybe it’s all he knows how to do, and he’s not doing it to make something happen.” ‘And he thinks this is true. What the cellist wants isn’t a change, or to set things right again, but to stop things from getting worse. Because, as the optimist in Emina’s mother’s joke said, it can always get worse. But perhaps the only thing that will stop it from getting worse is people doing the things they know how to do.’” – from The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway <pg 126>
I went looking for an old favourite quote in my quotations document.
This is the one I went looking for: “It isn’t the big pleasures that count the most, it’s making a big deal out of the little ones.” – Jean Webster
These are the others that popped up when I did a ‘Find’ on the word “little”:
“Mingle a little folly with your wisdom; a little nonsense now and then is pleasant.” Horace (65 – 8 B.C.) Roman poet and satirist
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
“What I remembered then was Reenie, from when we were little. It was Reenie who’d done the bandaging, of scrapes and cuts and minor injuries; Mother might be resting, or doing good deeds elsewhere, but Reenie was always there. She’d scoop us up and sit us on the white enamel kitchen table, alongside the pie dough she was rolling out or the chicken she was cutting up or the fish she was gutting, and give us a lump of brown sugar to get us to close our mouths. Tell me where it hurts, she’d say. Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where. But some people can’t tell where it hurts. They can’t calm down. They can’t ever stop howling.” – From Margaret Atwood’s novel Blind Assassin
“In his experience, great wounds sometimes healed, small sometimes festered. Any wound might heal on the skin side but keep on burrowing inward to a man’s core until it ate him up. The why of it, like much in life, offered little access to logic.” ~ The character Inman from the novel COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier
“Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the worst of failures.” – George Edward Woodberry, quoted in Reflections of Eden – My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo, by Birute Galdikas (Little, Brown & Co., 1995)
The Dalai Lama in 1992, after visiting the Greenpeace boat, the Rainbow Warrior, at Rio’s Earth Summit: “It’s a small boat, a little untidy. But it’s a very powerful symbol and the spirit on board is impressive. I was very inspired by that feeling, and it made my spirit stronger too.”
“I’m always amazed that people will actually choose to sit in front of the television and just be savaged by stuff that belittles their intelligence.” – Alice Walker, writer (1944- )
“Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take. Safety keeps you numb and dead. People are caught by surprise when it is time to die. They have allowed themselves to live so little.” – Stephen Levine
“Those who can, do. Those who believe others can also, teach.” – John E. King, lawyer/aphorist, Captive Notions (Little Philosophies Press) – quoted in Utne Reader May/June 2005
“A small boy lived by the ocean. He loved the creatures of the sea, especially the starfish, and spent much of his time exploring the seashore. One day he learned there would be a minus tide that would leave the starfish stranded on the sand. The day of the tide he went down to the beach and began picking up stranded starfish and tossing them back into the sea. An elderly man who lived next door came down to the beach to see what he was doing. “I’m saving the starfish,” the boy proudly declared. When the neighbour saw all of the stranded starfish, he shook his head and said, “I’m sorry to disappoint you young man, but if you look down the beach one way, there are stranded starfish as far as the eye can see. And if you look down the beach the other way, it’s the same. One little boy like you isn’t going to make much of a difference.” The boy thought about this for a moment. Then he reached his small hand down to the sand, picked up a starfish, tossed it out into the ocean and said, “I sure made a difference for that one.” – from a card that benefits the Lifespring Foundation (cards available in Minneapolis, MN, phone: (612) 729-2001).
Pema Chödrön on joy:
“Joy has to do with seeing how big, how completely unobstructed, and how precious things are. Resenting what happens to you and complaining about your life are like refusing to smell the wild roses when you go for a morning walk, or like being so blind that you don’t see a huge black raven when it lands in the tree that you’re sitting under. We can get so caught up in our own personal pain or worries that we don’t notice that the wind has come up or that somebody has put flowers on the dining room table or that when we walked out in the morning, the flags weren’t up, and that when we came back, they were flying. Resentment, bitterness, and holding a grudge prevent us from seeing and hearing and tasting and delighting.
There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.
Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our lives.” ~ page 24, Chapter Six – “Joy” – The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness, Pema Chödrön, Shambhala, 1991
“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to find it.” – Tori Amos
“Don’t be yourself. Be someone a little nicer.” – Mignon McLaughlin, journalist and author (1913-1983)
“I know what the greatest cure is: it is to give up, to relinquish, to surrender, so that our little hearts may beat in unison with the great heart of the world.” – Henry Miller
“War is the greatest destroyer of human life, the greatest polluter, the greatest creator of refugees, the greatest cause of starvation and illness. We all have to care – not just for our own little circle, but for the universe.” – Muriel Duckworth
“Focusing your life solely on making a buck shows a certain poverty of ambition. It asks too little of yourself. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential.” ~ Barack Obama
“This is the true joy in life – the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations.” – George Bernard Shaw
“The paradox of courage is that a man must be a little careless of his life in order to keep it.” – G. K. Chesterton
“Very little is needed to make a happy life. It is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” – Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Roman emperor & philosopher
“Nothing could be more salutary at this stage than a little healthy contempt for a plethora of material blessings.” ~ Aldo Leopold, Foreword to A Sand County Almanac
“We are blind to the future. We can barely hold on to our strange versions of the past. We see only a little of what is directly before us. We know almost nothing. The only way we can stand it is not to care. I care and I can’t stand it. I should just breathe in and out and be brave. But not knowing what is going to happen next and living with the hope that whatever it is it won’t be too difficult to understand is like driving at top speed with the windshield completely painted over with a picture of where you used to live.” – character David in the Scott Spencer novelEndless Love
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” – Robin Williams
“It reminded me of talking, how what is said is never quite what was thought, and what is heard is never quite what was said. It wasn’t much in the way of comfort, but everything has a little failure in it, and we still make do somehow.” – The Yellow Birds, by Kevin Powers <pg 225>
“There are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchange for a little power and privilege.” – Chris Hedges, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning
“True Charity: C.S. Lewis didn’t talk about percentage giving. He said the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. Our charities should pinch and hamper us. If we live at the same level of affluence as other people who have our level of income, we are probably giving away too little. Obstacles to charity include greed for luxurious living, greed for money itself, fear of financial insecurity, and showy pride.” ~ KathrynAnn Lindskoog
“I hope to be remembered as someone who made the earth a little more beautiful.” – Justice William O. Douglas
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.’ ~ Antoine de St. Exupéry in The Little Prince
“I do contend that we have put poisonous and biologically potent chemicals into the hands of persons largely or wholly ignorant of their potentials for harm. When the public protests, confronted with some obvious evidence of damaging results of pesticide applications, it is fed little tranquilizing pills of half truth.” – Rachel Carson in Silent Spring
“Holding onto a resentment is like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott in Crooked Little Heart
“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.” – Edmund Burke
*** this little exercise gave me more than a little inspiration & joy. So, yay!!
“But what it comes down to is that we are here now. So the choice is how to live now. With the little time left, we could wake up more. We could allow this whole experience of the planet, which is intrinsically rewarding, to manifest through our heart-minds—so that the planet may see itself, so that life may see itself. And we can bless it in some way. So there is some source of blessing on us, even as we die. I think of a Korean monk who said “Sunsets are beautiful too, not just sunrises.” We can do it beautifully. If we are going to go out, then we can do it with some nobility, generosity and beauty, so we do not fall into shock and fear.”