In my head, it’s all-consuming. I think about climate disruption morning, noon, and night. Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night and think about it.
I suppose that I have done this to myself. For over 20 years, I’ve been building a life that was supposed to make me prepared for this. And yet, here I am, on the brink, and I feel lost, overwhelmed, and ultimately unprepared for what is to come.
Google’s news feed allows me to highly customize the data I see. I’ve honed this feature such that in 32 offered stories, roughly half are specifically about climate change, and the other half are largely topics that are tangential or related to it (at least in my mind). This runs the gamut from ticks and refugees to soil, aquifers, permaculture,and regenerative agriculture, from waste streams and zoning regulations to real estate and building codes. Unless it’s a story about paper straws, I don’t read a whiff of Trump. Which is a good thing, except that it’s not. His absence from my feed is reflective of his engagement with the biggest existential threat we have ever faced. We’re at a critical point in time. It’s a damn shame there is such poor leadership coming from the executive branch of the United States.
But largely, I tend not to focus my energy there. Washington is going to do what Washington does, with or without me. I feel a responsibility to at least be minimally engaged, yet largely that engagement feels for naught. Where I do feel a difference with my impact is closer to home. As a matriarch, that began at home. I’ve run a tight reduce, reuse, and recycle household all my adult life, and I raised my kids in a small off-grid cabin. Years later when we did have running water in the house, it was because we’d built those features into the house ourselves. We’ve relied on continental trains to visit family or travel to school.
Quite honestly, it was a really sweet life.
I began carefully choosing how to invest my life energy – both in terms of time and the money spent. I learned to appreciate, and deeply value, the simple things. I joined an ecovillage and made it my mission to teach myself and others how to live sustainably. Spoiler alert – living in community is immeasurably rewarding, and the second hardest thing I’ve ever done. I gave up freedom and autonomy for the greater good, and learned how to navigate my way through that intra- and inter-personally.
Looking back, I realize that I foolishly made a deal with the planet; I’d do my part to live sustainably and help others do the same, and in return, I’d be safe. Funny thing though, the planet is letting me know that it doesn’t work that way. I feel fundamentally unsafe; for myself, for my kids, for my communities, for our very existence. Climate disruption is showing its presence faster and harder than most of us expected, including me.