Young person worry: What if nothing I do matters?
Old person worry: What if everything I do does?
Buddhist practice includes the notion that we have all been born many times before and that we have all been each other's mothers and fathers and children and siblings. Therefore, we should treat each person we encounter as if they are our beloved.
Survival instructors have a saying: get organized or die.
. . . at the wilderness camp they teach the kids something called "loss-proofing." In order to survive, you have to think first of the group. If you look after the needs of others, it will give you purpose and purpose gives you the burst of strength you need in an emergency. . . . you never know which kids will do well. But in general the suburban kids do the worst. They have no predators . . .
Jenny Offill (all quotes from her novel Weather)
The osteopath said, it's probably a nerve or maybe a disc in your neck. Can I say this, she asked, you are not going to freak out?, you don't seem the type. No, I replied, I am not the type. Freaking out was years ago. Also, she said, this is acute and after acute always comes subacute, so something to look forward to. Ok thanks, I replied. But you need to see an orthopedic surgeon, sooner better than later, she said as I got dressed. I'll do that next week, I reassured her. I'll let you know.
Look at it from a mechanical view point, R tells me. It's bones and tendons, not the end of the world.
Summer is pleasant so far. No sticky heat yet. No drought yet. Fat dragonflies sit on the vegetable beds.
All of the apricots have disappeared from the tree. I suspect squirrels but R claims the parakeets did it. We've never been lucky with stone fruit in this garden.
These days, we walk through the garden looking for signs of damage, climate damage. And changes are visible. We have lived on this piece of land, this suburbia garden for 25 years now. 25 years is not a long time - but it is enough to understand when something is no longer right with the nature in which you live. In the beginning, it was just a hunch, but now it can no longer be overlooked or explained away.
We think we let the roses, all of them, just die off, same with the peonies and the other flowering shrubs that are beautiful to our eyes, these wonders of horticultural breeding, but of no interest to insects. Also, so far, not a single butterfly. In this part of the world, a healthy insect world needs a wide range of sturdy, sustainable flowers, preferably from February to November. We have work to do.
For a short while, I sit down via zoom with a group of young climate activists to help with translations. The age gap is massive, my advice to beware of AI translation apps is politely waved off. We have nothing to hide, they laugh when I mention that what you put online is there to stay. Intellectual property, what's that when the planet burns.
I wake very early with the dawn chorus and lie there, breathing and thinking that like so many others, I love someone who will still be alive in 2100 and that this loved one will either face a world in climate chaos or a clean, green utopia, depending on what I do today. I text this to a friend after breakfast and she writes to me, no, don't get confused, climate action isn’t about individual sacrifice. That’s a lie you’ve been told. It’s the job of governments to make climate-safe choices. It's about changing the world together, not changing our lifestyles alone. Understand that we can accept that there is unimaginable, unbearable suffering in the world while simultaneously there is a heartbreaking amount of mercy, kindness and beauty. Love and righteous anger is our fuel rather than grievance and discontent.
You are not some disinterested bystander / Exert yourself.