I want to spend some time facing one of the most vexing realities I’m confronted with. I haven’t really tried facing this dilemma head on before. It drew my attention recently, and appearing on my radar screen, I began to think this is a phenomenon I run into all the time, and I haven’t really looked at it. Now, I’m stopping to do so. And I’m encountering the reality that what I face now has been ruling me for a long time. I am filled with dread. I don’t want to encounter what I cannot handle, but neither do I want to be ruled by what I fear.
I’ve been feeling a kind of troublesome tension that wracks my awareness and limits me. I’m talking about my awareness of the terminal condition of this world. I know how bad it is. And, I have difficulty knowing. I feel like I should do something right now, and I feel guilty because whatever I would do is not enough. I cannot put this heartache to rest. I’m damned if I do (respond) and damned if I don’t (become passive and guilty).
I feel like I am caught in an avalanche. I should try to survive. I am overwhelmed by the power of what I’m involved in. Survival is not really my call. But neither is just giving in. I vacillate between these two poles, feeling trapped and distorted by my awareness, that this is the reality I’m in. I cannot conceive of a way to make a difference, nor can I do nothing for very long. I ‘m never get off the hook. For a while I can convince myself of a change, then little by little, I realize that change doesn’t really change anything. I live with a certain anxiety that this house of cards is already coming down.
Sometimes I think it should, that I should help it, that my contribution is to add weight to this crumbling structure, to help it fall. But then I just as quickly fear the possibility. I don’t want the human experiment to end on my watch. I feel intensely disloyal.
I don’t really have a place to stand. I’m just uneasy. Anything I do is contaminated by my awareness. Not doing anything, or enough, is equally unsatisfying. I am literally torn apart, if I let myself know what I already know.
I carry this burden. Who doesn’t? I don’t think this just troubles those who are awake, it seems probable to me, that I suffer an awareness, that even when it is not consciously felt, all humanity bears.
I live with an impossible recognition. The nightmare goes on, and if one pays attention, it gets more and more horrifying. Still, I live within it. I can’t help but think about what I might be like if I didn’t have to bear this form of gravity, if, somehow, I wasn’t caught up in these times. Still, I am.
I can feel this weight every time I move. I can feel it when I am still, too. To be honest, it distorts everything I do. I don’t want it to, but it does. This is my environment now. I live with the day-to-day possibility of collapse. All of my interactions are defined, to some extent, by the reality of demise. I don’t really know what kind of human this makes me? I just know that living seems to bear this form of torment.
So it seems to me that modern life contains a kind of anxious tension that our ancestors may have never known. Do you think they could have imagined a time when humans had reason to not trust each other, because we know now how culpable we all are?
I’m discovering something though. In the midst of all this difficult mess, I am finding that I trust more those who are not pretending that crisis isn’t looming. I tend to listen harder to those who let themselves feel the mess we are in. I don’t mean the ones who are just horrified (and want to do something), but those who are intent upon living within the truth of this world. I tend to listen to, and respect, those whose hearts are broken by this shattered world, and have the temerity to live, relate, love, and exist torn apart. Their guts hang out, like mine, and I am encouraged.
Strangely, there seems to be nothing so humbling and enlivening as acceptance. The world is crumbling. For some reason this is coaxing the best and worst out of our species. I chose to look at the best. I hope that serves evolution, because it gives me hope. It may be that it takes such extreme conditions to evoke an awareness that can bear a fatal truth. If it does, then I am glad I get to be on the scene, for this moment in our species life.
William Croft says
My friend Gabriella sent me a subscription to Yes Magazine. It reports on the grass roots level initiatives that are showing the way forward. So much of mainstream media highlights the massive chaos and breakdowns. Because that is what ‘sells’ and gathers clicks and eyeballs.
William Croft says
From the 20th anniversary issue of Yes, 50 Solutions with clickable state map, one highlighted ‘solution’ / innovation per state,
Liz Tidyman says
Thank you for this thoughtful reflection. I will share it with my small community that seeks to grow in the ways of interdependence and hope.