I haven’t been writing much over the past year. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s more that I don’t see the point. I’ve been struggling with depression on and off, and the worst part of depression is that everything seems rather pointless, in a vast existential kind of way. For me, at least, it’s a chicken and egg situation. What came first; intense knowledge of the impending doom of climate change triggering this mindset, or a built-in depression that leads me to seek out knowledge justifying my doom and gloom mood?
Most days I’m fine. I’m actually really good and I still have a hard time accepting just how blessed I have been in this life. Surrounded by love and support, countless trinkets and material items that make me very happy, lucky to have seen so much of the world at such a young age. Truly happy in my marriage. But still. What’s the freaking point of it all? My mother says it’s all this idleness. It would drive anyone crazy. She probably has a point. Plus no regular source of income leads to a certain stagnation, especially when one spent their 20’s flying off to exotic locations at the drop of a hat. So I finally got a job that I can feel good about, helping out good people with plenty of time to write on the clock. Again, I’m just too damn lucky for my own good. This is just background information. I don’t want anyone to actually feel bad for me because I don’t.
I’ve been thinking maybe I’ve just got too much education for my own good. I don’t think there has ever been a time when philosophy and thinkers have been especially encouraged but it feels extra hard today for some reason. Slogans like “in the age of information ignorance is a choice” sound very progressive and hard hitting but let’s get real. Ignorance is encouraged more than ever.
We are drowning in useless information. Opinions and emotions are encouraged over facts, which are considered boring. It’s all about your emotions. Or other people’s emotions, on reality TV. But real-real emotions, like depression and the inability to fit into today’s very narrow and rigid success paradigm, are highly discouraged. Because it might lead others to question their place in the system. I feel like I do this a lot when speaking to people, and I feel bad about it. So I laugh it off and apologize for being a “downer”. I’ve learned enough about depression to understand that it is a false reality, and not one worth spreading. If you have a solid grasp on your meaning of life, hang on to it with all you’ve got. Unless of course it harms anyone else. Don’t be a psychopath.
I spent some time questioning whether or not I am a psychopath or at least narcissistic. I’m pretty sure these things fall on a scale and if 10 is Ted Bundy and 1 is Mother Theresa I am maybe a four or five. I tend to be pretty self centered and I will bite your head off (metaphorically speaking) if I’m hungry or tired, but I also suffer from an overload of select empathy. Stories about animals suffering leave me in tears. I can’t really enter pet stores and shelters. I have two white little bunnies that I love like crazy. To me, one of the most amazing aspects of being alive is to have a little (or big) creature show you love and affection in return. We can’t really communicate and they have no inherent reason to trust me, but they do and we co-exist and show each other love.
I guess, to me, that is the core of being alive. If the universe is just one big experiment and all living things on this planet is a one-in-a-trillion coincidence among billions upon billions of empty stars and planets, then the reason we are here must be for the universe to experience itself through life, joy and love. This is a beautiful planet. Animals have beautiful, trusting souls. Individually, most people are beautiful, too. But collectively? We have near destroyed this planet. Maybe I was drawn to study sustainability to understand why. I have most of the facts now but I still don’t understand the way.
Fact: in the last 40 years 50% of all species have gone extinct. Fact: every second 5 babies are born but only 2 people die. Fact: since the 2008 financial crash 99% of all capital gain has gone to the 1%. In 2016 the 1% will own 51% of the planet’s wealth. Fact: catastrophic climate change is now unavoidable. 150 years of industrialized civilization has essentially rendered the planet close to incapable of supporting life.
I think most people would like to think these things aren’t connected because once you realize that they are, it will change you. I will most likely not have children. I think in decades rather than lifetimes. I am so grateful for the wonderful three decades granted to me. I hope to have at least a couple of good ones more. I’m not naive enough to wish for decades of stable employment but I do wish to infuse my life with as much meaning as I possibly can and maybe make a small difference, maybe with my writing or maybe in a way that will surprise me. Because I am grateful I do not fear death, but I would like it to be on my own terms; not starving, fleeing violence. Over 50 million people (the world’s refugee population has increased 50% in the past 5 years) already find themselves in that circumstance right now. It will not get better. Our window to “fix” the world have closed and greed was the culprit.
Climate change. Such an innocent word. Unlike war there are not a handful of people responsible. In a way, we are all responsible, and then none of us are. I didn’t build the factories but I benefited from them. I didn’t kill wildlife but I couldn’t stop it either. I didn’t poison my beloved oceans but I live a lifestyle that require 100 000 ships to sail them at any given moment.
The sadness I feel in my heart stem mostly from the fact that it doesn’t have to be this way. This beautiful planet could provide for us, given the chance. We don’t have to destroy it to survive. What an insane time to be alive. It seems against all logic but maybe, in the big, big picture, things were meant to play out this way. Our amazing, crazy species came so far in such a short time. We created things that rivaled the beauty of the universe. We saw, learned and felt wonder. We allowed the universe to experience itself in a brand new way. And now the party is over. We are the last loitering guests. Only here to witness the demise of the lions, tigers and polar bears. In in some 20 million years the planet will re-balance itself and perhaps give life to new species. It’s more likely than not, given that it has already done that six times in the past 4 billion years. Maybe this, all of this creative genius combined with senseless destruction, had to happen for whatever will rise next to be born. And in that way, I get less sad. It’s almost comforting.
I’ll still keep fighting for a more sane world. I’ll love and take care of my little bunnies, my husband, my family and friends. I’ll try and help out where I can, write when I have time, travel some more when I have money. I’m still excited about all these things. I hope you are, too. I hope you are living a life that is meaningful to you, while remaining mindful to the world around you. That’s it. That’s all you have to do, really, that’s the only thing the universe requires of you. But you still don’t get to slack off, though. You still have to fight bullshit institutions and bullshit jobs, created only to keep a system that decayed long ago on life support. Try voting for candidates who want real change (not just saying it.) Start a new political party, or join one that is still not corrupted to the core. The unknown is scary, but the good news is, it really can’t get much worse at this point so let’s try something new. Let’s try politicians who put climate ahead of everything – even bribes and personal security. The media dictates what we care about. That’s a pretty important responsibility – make them fucking earn it. You have to help make advertisement-based corporate media obsolete simply by ignoring them, and by supporting journalists and writers with integrity. Most of them are freelance these days, or barely getting by. Cutting bullshit from your life will leave a void for a while, and that emptiness is going to be filled with sadness and questions, but don’t reject it. Just let it happen.
And what happens on the other side of all that? Maybe nothing. Maybe you only get to go quietly and/or screaming into that good night knowing that at least you tried. You may even earn yourself a smug ‘I told you so’ when shit really hits. But maybe, just maybe, we can also become the ‘change’ in climate change.