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The Poetics of Embodiment, the Relevancy of Hope: Musings on Climate Change

Updated: Oct 13, 2021



 

Ours is an age of profound disruption. And also, of profound possibility...


In an unchecked demonstration of hubris, humanity has engineered prominent social patterns, systems, and global structures antithetical to the sustainment of life itself. Although this statement is simple in its composition, it contains sweeping ethical implications and offers an entreaty to engage in deep ethical and soulful reflection…


From the preponderances of human rights abuses riddling the globe, to the myriad forms of social, economic, and ecological exploitation occurring across peoples, cultures, and ecologies, we have inherited a social world in dire need of transformation. The gravity of such urgency is perhaps most haltingly captured by the state of our planet's health: a direct indictment that something has gone terribly awry in the dominant (yet all too elusive) script governing the modern Western world.


If these words ring as hyperbole to you, I implore you: do not turn away. And if these words ring true for you, stirring the emotional chords of your heart, I also implore you: do not turn away.


Ours is not an age for looking away.


If you have read the most recent report by the UN's panel on climate change (the summary version accessible here), you have likely been acquainted with the most recent assessment of our collective predicament: the Earth is warming, human-driven behavior is responsible, and without immediate concerted action, humanity faces accelerating environmental instability of dramatic proportion. We are, in short, at risk of unintentionally destroying the very foundations of life on Earth.


If these realities do not create a soulful pause, if they do not elicit a profound stirring in the depth of your being, I again beseech you… please do not look away…


connect


to what arises


in you,


through you


we must expand our hearts


—the circumference of our compassion—


to envelop the world...

the preciousness of life


that dwells here


please


dwell here...


We are at a watershed moment. As the poet once said: 'the center cannot hold.'


This is a crossroads that requires an acceleration of individuals, communities, institutions, and organizations to connect to the profundity of these urgencies and to respond with an alacrity befitting the demands. We require a tapping into the untapped bounds of our creative potential; a sparking of the combustible engine of our collective inspiration; and provocative, compelling visions of possible future worlds founded on principles of sustainability, equity, shared abundance, and an ethos of regenerative stewardship—for humans, planet, and all living species.


 

Wisdom learned through my own contemplative practice informs me that fear is one of the greatest hindrances to creative problem-solving and cultivating openness to novel ideas—two qualities that will be in great demand if we hope to address the ecological—and social—distress riddling the globe. We can understand the qualities of heart and mind that arise during the tumult of these times by turning inward, and slowing down... And understanding is always both a salve and bulwark to the perseverance of fearful states.


We cannot afford for fear, despair, sorrow, and rage—what I have come to perceive as the affective dimensions of climate change and ecological injustice—to become the emotional restraints that hinder greater collective action. Turning inward, mind/body practices can support a familiarity with these 'guests' and a greater capacity for skillfully and wisely relating to these emotions that can too easily function as a metaphorical quicksand: ensnaring us, causing panic, while casting the illusion of movement or even productivity.


Through the discipline of taking our seats, we strengthen invaluable capacities akin to re-sourcing and re-nourishing body/heart/mind. In doing so, I find I am able to better honor the difficult elicitations that arise when reflecting on the sobering status of our social and ecological systems, and the practice and process of acknowledgment is always one of an alchemical nature... Difficult mental phenomena, when recognized and held in the compassionate warmth of awareness, can sometimes soften or even dissipate, perhaps even giving way to more eclipsed aspects of our being that offer 'life-forwarding' promptings. I remind myself: the next time I feel inundated with fear, or immobilized by the dense shroud of despair, there might also be the presence of hope, joy or inspiration.... obscured embers waiting for the spark of our attention….


These are what we must fan into flame and lend to one another as we seek to bring collective definition to new life-affirming pathways. These are the indispensable components for not only bearing witness to the ecological sorrows befalling our times, but for cultivating a stance of radical, engaged ecological stewardship.


 

May we each choose to rekindle—and continue to rekindle—the embers of hope and inspiration.

We will not succeed without them...



May your/my/our light so shine,

Megan


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