"Stories are recognizable patterns, and in those patterns we find meaning. We use stories to make sense of our world and to share that understanding with others. They are the signal within the noise. So powerful is our impulse to detect story patterns that we see them even when they're not there."
~ Frank Rose
Summer is reluctant this year. We wait, through rain and wind, for the sun to peek through, to tentatively reach towards us, shy and unsure.
We wait, trusting that it will come.
In truth, it feels familiar, like an Irish summer ‘should’ be, and really brings home just how our climate has changed in the last number of years, how we cannot claim Ireland to be guaranteed rain-doused and rainbow-bedecked any more. While last summer’s drought was unusual, our winters have been drier too. And this is not going to change any time soon.
Romania ~ April 2019
I have been to some dark places over the last couple of years, down to the depths, into the darkness, at times paralysed by fear and grief - what will become of us? Of our children? How can we even begin to fix this? Overwhelmed by my grief. Hence the long gaps here - I simply couldn't write.
But somewhere there in the darkness, I found something. I found when I turned and looked into it, this darkness, when I swallowed my fear and opened my eyes and looked it face on, I saw it for what it is; a story. And I realise that I have always known this, in my bones. The bones of my knowing. We only ever have our stories. It’s what creates our reality. As I have written here before, whatever story we tell ourselves, or whatever story we listen to that others tell us, we believe it.
So yes, this dark, devastating reality we now face is the result of the story we believed for decades, The Consumer Story (does anyone else think being called The Consumer sounds like a pretty hardcore Evil Being who will wreak havoc and destroy the Earth? Hmm…) This is what The Consumer has created.
The only way out now is to tell ourselves a new story. It’s the only way. We start with a new story, with changing people’s minds. But this is urgent and critically important because there is another Dark and Dangerous Story being told with increasing reach (it's tentacles are long and sinewy) - the story of Collapse. The doom story that has no hope. And we know that fear paralyses us, people need hope to be galvanised, they will leap into action when they believe there is something to save. Albert Bates calls it an emotional virus, which can be highly infectious, but one that can be resisted. A new, beautiful story is what we need, one that is not only hopeful, but that is based on real possibilities.
Romania ~ April 2019
So, in that dark place that I found myself in a couple of summers ago, I understood it was not somewhere we should stay, there is a danger of that, of getting stuck there. When faced with the 'undoing of life as we know it', of course it holds the possibility that we will fall into the darkness and never find a way out, and that is terrifying. Now that this topic is on the High St. and in political arenas, thanks to the likes of Greta Thunberg, and groups like Extinction Rebellion, there is really no getting away from it, and I understand people's reluctance. Because falling into Collapse does happen, it has to happen. How many people do we know who feel like there is no point? We are doomed. And so that story of Collapse takes hold and starts to become the new reality for those people, and then becomes a virus that infects others around them and... well, you know those TV shows about viruses that bring about the end of the world....? But the bit that is missing for many is that we are not meant to stay there. We need to see it for what it is and use that information to begin the new story. Those of us who have been there, who have seen it, must come back from the darkness, even though we bring grief, we have to be the storytellers, the taleswappers of the new hopeful story, the bards.
It wasn't some big epiphany that allowed me to climb out of those depths, more like just getting up each day and carrying on, and reaching, every single day, for hope. And sure enough, it was there, once I learned how to look, how to listen out for it, that beautiful, new story. And the more I reached, the more I found, and the more I found, the more I reached until I was very much on a journey with a purpose.
Romania ~ April 2019
So, back in April of this year, I found myself traveling into the wild mountains of Romania, into the heart of the Wild, and there I was able to ask questions of the Earth, of myself, as to what needs to happen next for me? Along with other seekers, we delved into our Wild Minds, searching for our Selves among the trees, rivers, mountains, wildlife, mist, and stars, and as we wandered, we were connecting with those elements or other-than-human-beings in a profound way. It was magical, challenging, scary, heart-filling, whole-making. It was facing into the raw and the beautiful, all acutely Present, right there with us every day from the moment we awoke. It was a balm and it was a Summoning.
I came home with pockets full of lichen, stones, moss, feathers, bark, seeds - seeds for planting and pollinating, seeds that are germinating under my tongue, my skin, waiting for the sun, or for the moments that are ripe to be spoken. And then they fly, little fluffy-tufts that people want to blow away, uncomfortable, sticky things. But I can't help it, there they fly, those difficult things that need to be named, that need to be taken by the hand and led into the clearing so we can all see what exactly we are dealing with, and therefore create a gameplan for ourselves.
Romania ~ April 2019
I was barely a week home when I headed over the sea to Scotland where I was lucky enough to attend the Climate Change and Consciousness conference in Findhorn in Scotland, which had incredible speakers like Vandana Shiva, Charles Eisenstein, among others, all of whom had something vital and eye-opening and hopeful and inspiring to say. In the context of this post, I found what Jonathon Porritt had to say of particular interest. He says that we already have everything we need for a sustainable future. It already exists. We don't need to wait for some new technology to be invented, it's all here already. And as Paul Hawken of Drawdown says, “Inspiration is not garnered from the litanies of what may befall us; it resides in humanity's willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, reimagine, and reconsider.” Drawdown offers 100 solutions to reverse global warming. This is real!
Because there is another story, another reality being created with a different vision, and it’s gathering momentum. I am speaking from first-hand experience. But "It's not the waking, it's the rising" that counts. It needs numbers, it needs people, to reach tipping point, and that’s when change happens exponentially. It’s up to us to create the world we want to live in now. I believe that we will change nothing if we don’t change our consciousness. It’s pointless to even try. It means creating a new world, a new way of living, a new way of being in community, a new way of educating our children, a new way of communicating, a new way of resolving conflict, and most important of all, a new way of connecting with, and relating to, the rest of the beings we share this beautiful planet with, including the planet herself. Because without those fundamentals of connection and meaning, we will get lost in our grief.
Findhorn ~April 2019
“We need to tell the stories that create a deep longing for a future that looks very different to the present. A future of cleaner air, children playing in the street, cities with food growing everywhere, louder birdsong, thriving local economies, an age of connection, conversation and community, schools and hospitals fed by local food, a sense of collective purpose. A future of renewable energy, rewilded landscapes, imaginative and playful architecture. It’s going to be amazing.”
The leaves sway outside my window, nodding to me in reassurance - 'we will be alright', they say, 'don’t worry. We are not sure about you though. So go on, get out there and tell the tale, the one where we finally, gratefully, gracefully join hands together.'
So, I would like to leave you with an invitation. If you don't already know, go out and find who are the changemakers in your local area, find out what they are up to, find a way to get involved. I promise you will feel better. There's even science to back up the fact that volunteering reduces stress and anxiety. We humans need to have a sense of purpose, we need to feel we are contributing.
“The great thing about the dilemma we're in is that we get to re-imagine every single thing we do...There isn't a single thing that doesn't require a complete remake. There are two ways of looking at that. One is: Oh my gosh, what a big burden. The other way, which I prefer, is: What a great time to be born! What a great time to be alive! Because this generation gets to essentially completely change the world.” Paul Hawken
Findhorn ~ April 2019
DARK PINES UNDER WATER
This land like a mirror turns you inward
And you become a forest in a furtive lake;
The dark pines of your mind reach downward,
You dream in the green of your time,
Your memory is a row of sinking pines.
Explorer, you tell yourself, this is not what you came for
Although it is good here, and green;
You had meant to move with a kind of largeness,
You had planned a heavy grace, an anguished dream.
But the dark pines of your mind dip deeper
And you are sinking, sinking, sleeper
In an elementary world;
There is something down there and you want it told.
By Gwendolyn MacEwen (1941-1987)