“I thought I was alone,” I could hear so much tiredness in her voice.
“To be honest the reason I am here is that I am terrified. I’m not like the rest of you. I’m only twenty-four years old.”
“How are things in Zimbabwe?” I asked a lady who lives in my street. “It’s really bad, there is no food. The water is dirty. I don’t know how to send food to my mother.”
“It’s not fair Mommy, I’m only 16, I want to have sex before I die.”
“It’s so hot inside my shack. Food is getting so expensive.”
“I’m so depressed, all I do is cry. I can’t look at the news. I don’t know how to cope.”
“I don’t see the point of finishing my degree. There is no time.”
I can hear all your voices, how can I forget them? Your words are imprinted on my memory, articulations of that which I fear and feel too.
It’s such a human reflex to reach out and to say to another, “don’t worry, it’s going to be okay.” But how can I?
I know there is nothing okay with what we are all feeling and what we are facing. It’s exceptionally difficult to not be able to offer a solution, to speak of hope and a brighter future. It would be so much easier to manufacture a story of how things will all work out but we really have no idea if they will, and what option remains but to move into an acceptance that they probably won’t.
The problem with truth is that truth doesn’t care.
It simply is.
“I don’t know if I should speak to my son about this. He is in a state of denial and I think it is best to just let him be so he can at least enjoy whatever he can before things get worse.” She looks at me, and I struggle to answer as I know she is uncertain too.
I find myself wanting to agree with her, despite my decision to be truthful always that climate change is about to change everything.
And then the realisation opens within me that her son is not actually happy. He’s working as much as he can and distracting himself in every way that he can from the experience of life believing that he can avoid this. He has constructed stories and attached to theories that he tells himself are real to hide from the pain that we are all feeling. At face value, he seems to be holding it together, but the cracks are showing hard and fast when I look again.
I believe in each of our hearts we feel it, many of us though are trying very hard to avoid it because it is scary and feels too overwhelming.
“This is not how I wanted my life to turn out,” he snaps at me. I remember the words of Stephen Jenkinson, “this is not your life, you are merely a participant in this experience of life” and I wish I could repeat these words, but this is my interpretation of reality and who am I to impose that upon another?
I too have been overwhelmed for many years with these emotions, knowing for a while now that we were heading in a certain direction though never expecting it to all hit us at once.
I too have gnashed my teeth, screamed at the heavens, beaten my fists and wanted to give up at the injustice of it all.
And I too have thought that I was alone in these feelings.
I too am afraid.
I’ve realised there is no castle that any man can construct that can protect him from what is to come. We can do everything in our power to stand up to it, to mitigate it, to slow it down, to fight tooth and nail for extra time for our children, but I don’t believe the future is particularly bright.
I’ve realised there are three choices we are all being presented with:
- Give up. Inaction essentially is pretty much the same thing.
- Become survivalists. The truth is that approach has never resonated with me if you are lucky you might buy yourself some time.
- Live love.
As Joanna Macy says, we don’t do this because we think we will succeed, we do it because we love so deeply we couldn’t possibly do it any other way.
Living love means choosing life. And choosing life means loving life enough to take every action possible to create a kinder world. A cleaner world. A more supportive world.
I don’t know what the future holds. I know that I can face it with peace though knowing that I am honouring life by not only choosing to experience it fully but also by taking actions to support it.
And while I may live alone, a single woman who has no family, the reality is I know I am not alone. I’m standing with people just like me who have also been cracked open by grief only to realise that the only difference between grief and praise is the former is attached to that which exists in the past.
The more I open my hands the more hands I find that meet them. The more I open my heart, the more my heart opens to allow me to feel all of it.
The truth has set me free. I’ve let go of how I thought life should look, and in doing so life gets to show me what is truly important and needs to be seen.
In even in my darkest of hours, I now am aware that I am not alone.
I’ve become a rebel for life.
And so as we gather in our masses, we find ourselves united by this crisis driving us to create life supportive structures and to stand up and be counted. Whilst grief moves through all of us at different times, there is deep solace to be found in unity, beauty in impermanence, love in each moment and purpose in service. We are in this together.
This may be a rebellion, but it is beautiful. “The incredible compassionate revolution starts here, starts now.” – Diana Reynolds.
You are not alone.