06 June 2023

exert yourself

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.



Barbara Rogers said...

I do disagree with your friend...we are all part of this, and each flower or tree planted does make a small difference. Of course our political representatives (who we have say so to put into office) are to observe the dictates of their constituents. So talk CLIMATE CHANGE when considering who to vote for! We have our voices, our votes and our wallets.

ellen abbott said...

so much here! first, I agree with both of those quotes at the top. First I think of my bad relationship with my mother and wonder if it was karma balancing out or creating some situation for myself in a future life. will she be my daughter (or son) next or has she already been? Second we can only survive as a group, as a whole. when individuals become selfish and self centered thinking only of themselves and not the well being of the whole, then destruction follows. I think we're seeing some of that here in the US with this gun fetish fascination.

my PC doc is an osteopath, I specifically chose her over an MD. I don't know anything really about what's going on with your neck but have you considered a good chiropractor. I would try that before going to a surgeon.

and I disagree and agree with your friend. it takes all of us and the government. I bought my first canvas bag when I was 20 (I'm 73 now). I used reusable bags long before it was the thing. I have gone out of my way to recycle before it was the thing my whole life. I wash foil and plastic bags, I buy products in glass over plastic when I can. we allow all the spring wildflowers to take over the yard until the summer bloomers appear and we let the dead foliage from fall and winter stay until the spring bloomers appear. and still my individual efforts are like a drop of rain in a barrel but when enough drops fall, they fill that barrel. I too have loved ones that will inherit what we do and don;t do and I hope that they will have the same lovely planet and not be struggling to survive.

Pixie said...

I love the quotes and I'm glad the neck pain can be addressed, although probably not easily.
Young people are young. I remember being filled with hope and energy, I could make a difference. Who knows if I ever made a difference, but I wanted to. I thought about Jack after I read this post and wondered how bad the world will be when he is an old man. My daugthers will not have children. I spoke with my niece last night, she and her partner are not having children. They know what we are only now coming to terms with, this world is not a good place for children anymore which breaks my heart too.

jozien said...

Sabine, you probably already noticed, but we both live around 25 years in the same spot. And yes we see changes, for me it is mostly that most of the trees have grown, the grass is greener, and maybe because we come from a sub-arid climate, i see more species, always. So it is easy for me to not be too concerned, still I believe our personal changes are everything!, politicians will follow, as they are us.

Colette said...

I've never lived in any house for 25 years, although we were at our rural place in New York State almost that long. It seems like a long time to me. I hear you about the next generation. I find myself regretting having the one child I did have. Not because she isn't everything to me, she is. I think I could be a little less anxious about the troubles ahead of us in this world if I didn't have future generations to worry about.

Steve Reed said...

We have seen a few butterflies here, but yeah, the insect world is suffering. I like the idea of planting for the bugs. We try to do the same, but we maintain the roses and peonies too. I don't see anything wrong with having some plants for us and some for them. The middle path!

It's astonishing to think that today's children will be around in 2100. (Well, hopefully!) That's kind of mind-blowing.