I read an article in the New York Times by several leading climate scientists. They laid out evidence that climate change is happening much faster than anyone has dared to predict. It left me with a hollowness in my stomach, weakness in my limbs, and eyes that lose focus and want to dart around.
We live on a half-acre of land abutting the greenway along the American River. We’ve been working on fire abatement — trimming bushes, removing low tree branches, etc. It’s a small gesture. But there is some comfort in doing what we can to mitigate one small aspect of climate issues.
But when I think of my two adult sons, I want to weep about the world they are inheriting and the lives they’ll have in it. I have to meditate for an hour and a half or more before those feelings settle into a deep stillness.
Still, when I think of my grandson who is not even three years old, I start to lose it. It feels like wading into a fast-moving river that I thought was a few feet deep. But it turns out to be over six feet deep: I can’t ground my feet in the river bed and keep my head above water at the same time.
Inwardly I have moments of overwhelming despair — not for myself but for my little grandson and his peers. I can’t really imagine what the world will be like when he grows up. I feel helpless as I tumble through the currents. The weird part is that outwardly I probably appear normal. I wonder what other normal-looking people are feeling inside.
As I drop in there is a sinking feeling through my belly area and a heat in my heart space. My chest is trembling. It’s basic dread. Oof. It doesn’t really move so I just hold it with a soft open, interested attentiveness. After some time, I acknowledge my Openness to possibility and the sensations turn into a soft heaviness in my chest area that I know as sadness. I open again and it just stays the same. I feel the space around it and notice the stillness of the space. The sensations of sadness haven’t changed, but they are easier to hold. I have to go and the still space and the sadness are still with me. It’s ok, though not pleasant. The words “Things are as they are appear. But yes this is truly sad and scary.””
Thank you for sharing, Doug, and thank you for your deep care. As I notice the sensations inside of me, I feel the familiar layer of constriction around the front of my heart – this feels like pretending, like denial. Behind that, in the back of my body, there is a deep unsettledness. It’s like having a layer of ice, frozen, still, pretending to be smooth and harmless, while behind that is a rushing river. This feels like a mirror to what is going on on a larger scale.. danger masked by denial. Deep deep within me there is a sense of okayness, but in the middle layer are the other knowings and the question, “okay for whom?” Where I feel freedom and movement without the stuckness of denial is when I imagine diving into the river and going with it.