Okay, Gentle Reader, this is going to be a tough post. Stick with me anyway. And remember: I am saying this doesn’t happen tomorrow... but to believe it won’t happen at all is fatal.
When I read through Medium, on any given day there will be a good dozen articles that want to hammer into your brain that we are dying, that the earth is dying, that we are headed for the Greater Depression and mass extinction, that it only gets worse from here.
That Americans are clueless, and refusing to change, and paying attention to all the wrong things: they are nothing but wishful thinkers or insane preppers.
That the vast majority of us have no idea what it will be like when there is no food and water is poisoned and nobody has a job and we are all having heat stroke if we’re not dying in a flood or a hurricane…and Bezos and Musk and their buddies will all be hidden in billionaire-bunkers hoarding the last of the world’s resources.
That it is too late for change, and nobody has the fortitude to do it anyway, and the politicians are all lying greedmongers who won’t fix the world even one little bit.
We are all going to live in chaos forever and ever, amen.
So I ask — what if it’s all true?
You see, I completely admit that I see things collapsing ahead. Fast and scary. That 2019 is like 1913 — the normal we will never see again.
So what do you do?
You don’t get paralyzed mourning for the lost.
You cherish and burn into your memories every day that feels the least bit normal (because there will still be some of those for a while).
You start bringing together your tribe: the people you love, the people you trust, the people who are responsible and keep their word and understand that community trumps me me me.
You take every single thing you have down to the rind — experiences, memories.
You appreciate every cup of coffee, every hot shower, every clean t-shirt and can of pet food for your furred companion. Because you never know when they won’t be around anymore.
You up your skillset: whether it’s growing food or sewing clothes or building a shelter or learning to heal with herbs and energies, think colonial, think pre-industrial, but take into account we won’t have the flora and fauna and weather beneficence that they had.
Notice I am not talking about fencing your house and learning to be a sniper and having guns, guns, guns.
The truth is that things are going to get very bad for a very long time. And a lot of us may not live to see the other side. At 67, I don’t expect to. But while we are here, we can find our community, and share what bread we have and what water we find, and we can gather wood together for warmth and keep each other as safe and as loved as possible. It’s not necessarily going to be your family of blood, but your family of choice.
And there must be joys. Even tiny ones. And songs, and stories, and pictures scrawled in the dirt and on the walls. The ending of one paradigm and the beginning of another must bring art and spirit with the survival skills.
One of my favorite authors, Diane Duane, was prescient in her first book some forty-five years ago. She was talking about her fantasy world, but it’s every bit as true in this one:
“The Death of things is inevitable. But we have one power, all men and beasts and creatures of other planes. We can slow down the Death, we can die hard, and help all the worlds die hard. To that purpose it behooves us to let loose all the power we can. To live with vigor, to love powerfully and without caring whether we’re loved back, to let loose building and teaching and all the arts that try to slow down the great Death. Especially joy, just joy itself. A joy flares bright and goes out like the stars that fall, but the little flare it makes slows down the great Death ever so slightly. That’s a triumph, that it can be slowed down at all, and by such a simple thing.”
— Diane Duane, THE DOOR INTO FIRE.