We talk of “climate change” as if it is a phenomenon out there, not in here. That comfortable lie shattered this year, and this post spills out some of my feelings.
If climate change is someone else’s responsibility, we play the blame game, and put on blinders, one called out there in the future and the other called out there in the tropics or poor countries.
If we consider our personal relationship with “climate change” we squirm, wondering if it is really our fault and if so, if we’ve done enough. That is such a bummer that most turn back to daily life tasks.
I have written extensively about climate change for 3 decades with both those presumptions active.
Climate change is out there – hitting other people, not us here … in the future, not us now. We still have time to mend our ways, personally, economically, socially. We can prevent the outcomes written in chalk on the wall. Your Money or Your Life was written with such a presumption – that we had time and we could save the world. With a good degree of arrogance, I presumed I was more informed and could inform and exhort others less in the know, enrolling them in an army of change makers. I wrote from the invisible privilege of a white, educated woman, living in a relatively safe, abundant community, and with enough income to met my needs. That is: the top quarter of the world’s population. Intellectually I knew we were baking dire consequences for life on the planet through our lifestyles, but, as the song says, “I must be Cleopatra because I’m the Queen of de-nial.”
Ever since I’ve been feeling what is upon us all, the ways my life and the life of all I love will change. I’ve let my feelings transform my thoughts rather than trying to think my way into solutions.
Here are two pieces I’ve written about these feelings. If you care for them, please share.
Vicki Robin, June 2019
I will be one of those wispy haired disheveled old women with a toothless smile calling everyone dearie and honey and seeing if I have something for them in my pocket.
It’s too late to change everything, my friends.
Our bad habits are deeper than our will to break them.
Our addictions to oil and blindness are crispr’d into our DNA.
So let’s save rubber bands and plastic bags, let’s empty our pockets, let’s fight for what’s right not because we will win (and we’ll want to) but because it’s just what we do.
What do I change now that the change has come? Perhaps only my expectation that we could change this… in time.
I am not hopeless. I am only without the hopes I had.
I will fall silent soon as life grows resplendent with truth.
What I will miss in the end times
Vicki Robin, July 2019
Tall ridged sentinels ring my house, their trunks ringed with wide branches. Small cones sit on platters of needles, the papery tails of each seed flicking from each scale. Their ancestors long gone to build Seattle, these trees, like a horseshoe Greek chorus, embrace my house. What we know. These ones are doomed. Long dry summers. Roots reaching into bedrock to find water and failing. Open cones but no moist soil into which to come alive. Some beetles or mites will get under each tree’s skin. Eaten from the inside out. Dying standing up. Not attended by kin, the remnant of which will have moved northward for water. Ancestor to no one. This bowl of trees has held my days for a decade. Good morning. Good night. Parenting my new life in this new home, now comfortable with many seasons of living. Good morning. Good Night. Good bye. They are stoic but I am bereft.
First Street in Langley
Water laps the concrete stairs from the seawall to the beach. Like marking children’s growth in pencil on a door frame, I mark high tides each year. Are they creeping up the stairs, the sea nibbling with tiny rat teeth our town? Up past the Totem Pole standing watch, a sentinel, at the top of the stairs. Up across the narrow Seawall park where teens have lost their virginity and gotten their first high in deep nooks in the shrubbery. Nibbling the foundations of century old wooden seaside structures. The Dog House. The Old Post Office. The Dry goods store. Mike’s Place, once a gas station then a restaurant. Nibbling. The Clyde, our movie theater, painted seaside blue with a half circle of stars like the old Paramount pictures logo. I did not make this town but it opened to me when I needed shelter and I love each clapboard building with a western fake front. The Bistro with rooftop dining warmed by propane fired umbrellas stanchion. They say earthquakes will send my town and the entire coast into the sea. I try to imagine sailing off with all my friends and these shops and buildings and history into oblivion, toasting one another with those bottles of chardonnay we’ve saved for the send-off.
Becoming an ancestor
The death bed scene. Normal Rockwell didn’t paint it but could have. A dark walnut four-poster bed. A smooth mound of wool blankets, grayed with age. Thin white hands resting over the covers, inert. A cavernous mouth, teeth elsewhere. Fidgety kids. Somber adults. The hands of God coming through luminous clouds, beams of golden light, rails for the soul train to travel home.
This is not what I will have. Most assuredly not.
Only someone as dark as Elmer Gantry could consign us all to the fires of living hell as the planet creaks and cracks, whips up storms, flooding coastlines while denying water to whole thirsty cities – the next town as parched as the one people flee. A near-sighted species, unable to jump until the last minute. Facing the end, fleeing the end, but ending… in the end.
What’s next after the end? I held out for getting a junior ancestor patch, assigned to guard over some coven of good witches or classroom of children. Where are the progeny who will call on me if it all ends too soon? For whom will I be a sentinel when I am gone?
No one wants to talk about this. This is not the order of life. Grandparents. Parents. Children. Grandchildren.
A child dying before his parent. A tragedy.
What do we call this?
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