Bushfires in Australia and wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, and everywhere else they are raging out of control, take out plenty of prepper properties, as well as more conventional buildings (not to mention the millions of other lives). The recent floods in northern NSW, outrageous in their extent, must have washed out countless veggie patches, some of which would have been substantial. The days of thinking that individualistic, survivalist forms of prepping, to create climate proof shelter and food sources, are over.
I’m still growing as much food as i can, but now i know that could all be flooded out tomorrow. I’m still hunting in my local ecosystem for protein, but now i know those same floods make conditions for my chosen sport – spearfishing – completely hopeless. I see that my own humble efforts are part of a bigger picture of trying to become free from the mass markets and their supply chain weaknesses; and i see that none of us can become free of climate chaos.
We knew ecosystem collapse was going to be non-linear, but now the results are starting to become known. They are not completely random – superstorms will whip up more intensely in certain places, due to ocean currents and prevailing wind patterns, while droughts and heatwaves will become more prominent in some places than others. But regardless of the randomness or predictability of the effects, one thing we can be sure of is that we are about to be as psychologically assaulted as people have ever been. And this time the “we” really is everyone.
Sure, the 1% and other assorted squillionaires might hold out longer in their bunkers, enjoy whatever media they have pre-recorded and swill whatever goods they have shelved while we bake on the surface above. But eventually, apocalyptic conditions will affect all of us, everywhere, all the time, increasingly. All humans as well as most other animals and complex life forms are going to be as ‘baked in’ as the feedback loops that now ensure that climate action will no longer be enough to mitigate a mass extinction event.
Given that those exponential graphs still ain’t going nowhere but up and off the charts, i think it is time we got all post-doom and cranked up the volume on our spiritual response to this reality. And by spirit, i simply mean the essence of a thing, the enlivening force, the mysterious energy that explodes into life as the universe, and as consciousness, and incarnates as us sentient beings, intelligent primates, self aware and embodied by some miracle we did nothing to deserve.
In fact, celebrating this is half my answer. Getting back to thankfulness, appreciating our outrageous fortune, loving life in all its myriad forms while we still can. Recognising that all the work we do for our environment, all our attempts at evolving social justice, every act of compassion is a drop in the ocean of eternity – not producing anything, not changing the direction of the world, just doing good for its own sake.
Surrendering to this is humbling and beautiful. My Zen practice – a prosaic term for breathing in the miracle of presence in every moment – has never been so strong and lasting into the day as it has been since i gave up thinking i was going to change anything except the way someone thinks for a while, the way a child smiles when i am genuine with them, the way a bee flies on when i rescue it from tidal seawater, the way a plant flourishes because i watered it.
Aside from this deeply personal response, which all of us can make, immediately, and keep doing, there is community. That will be the subject of my next post; how we can work together, in groups of like-minded individuals, for mutual support. I’d like to be doing this more in my local area, but in the meantime i am currently facilitating retreats to help people connect more deeply with nature, for the purposes of therapy and liberation, and i recently enjoyed Jem Bendell and Katie Carr’s Leadership and Communication During Societal Breakdown course.
These are the most effective prepping activities we could be doing right now. Getting better at living again, for the moment, for the little things, while we can, together and alone. There’ll be plenty of big stuff to attend to, no matter where we live, soon enough. And in the meantime, children still smile when you are kind to them. Even adults do sometimes …
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Opening photo credit: Gillian Tedder