“Writing is about learning to pay attention and communicating what is going on.”Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird
I write to process. Every week I sit down in front of my computer and throw my mind back to the week that passed. What stood out? Did I learn anything? Any meaningful connections? So, here I go …
I have been sick for a month. A whole month. Coughing more than breathing, feeling like a truck ran over me on most days, getting better for around 72 hours, only to find myself in chills and bouts of coughing again afterwards. This is truly out of character for me. Colds used to last me between one and there days, I very seldom needed medication and I would be able to work through almost anything. This time I am not sure what scares me more: the fact that the doctors just seem to wing it or that the medicine has the effect of candy?
On my morning walks two listens have drawn my attention: Jane Fonda talking about her fierce activism around protecting the environment and the science that shows that our hidden brain makes it so that climate change effects feel too remote and too “happening to other people” for us to actually care and do anything about it. And why would we think Bill Gates had read enough books and connected enough dots to be right when he spoke about viruses we won’t be able to beat, six years before the first pandemic of our lifetime? Isn’t it more … human … to asume he tried to make himself right by producing a virus in the lab and then microchipping all of us into dropping Apple and picking up Microsoft?
I can’t tell exactly why it is this time that I truly heard messages about the planet being ill. Maybe because I can feel it affecting me, maybe because I am getting old myself, maybe because I know what it is like to suffer from something unseen while everyone around you tells you to just get a grip or that there is nothing wrong. The only planet we will ever have has been depressed for a while now. With very few of us noticing. And even now, when her ailments have become unbearable and when she has started to shake, break into sweat, cut, when her beauty has started to whither … even now, her suffering remains ellusive to so many of us: “Oh, she’s just getting old!” “Oh, come on, she is exagerrating!”
What part of “there is no plan B” don’t we understand? Do we really have to wait for suicide before we can become thoughtful when we utter the phrase “hmmm, she seemed to be doing just fine … .”
I have not been an environmentalist so far and, out of respect for the real ones, I am not going to pretend to be one going forward. I am just one human who got scared into paying a bit more attention. At first sight, it all looks absolutely overwhelming. We have gone too far … nothing can be undone … there will be no planet for our grand children. And yet, it ain’t over til its over. There are things we can do, small acts of good that, when aggregated, might offer our planet an ounce of joy and a second more of a future. Again, I am not the person to guide you, so many others are. But for what is worth, just pay attention.