For this week’s Sunday post, I had planned to share my reflections on “shifts in being” needed for deep adaptation to our planetary climate and ecological existential crises unraveling in real time. While regions of our planet face heat waves, wildfires, droughts, floods, and other Acts of God, our political leaders fumble, grumble, and stumble to implement the solutions proposed and agreed upon at the United Nations Climate Change Conferences held since its establishment in 1992.
I could not find the right framework to put my reflections into words. By the end of my workday on Friday evening, I had scrapped four unsuccessful attempts. After clearing my mind with a touching father-daughter movie, Don’t Make Me Go (Prime Video, 2022), I returned to my writing task shortly after 10:00 p.m. At 2:24 a.m. of a new day, with frustration taking hold, I scrapped another four drafts and went to bed.
What’s wrong with me, I asked myself as I settled down in bed to get some sleep before daybreak. Then it hit me. I had spent the entire creative process trying to fit an immense sphere into a tiny cube. The expository essay was not the appropriate form to express the conflicting and terrifying emotions we must now grapple with. The poetic form had worked when I had faced similar challenges in the past. It did not work in this case. I needed a different narrative form.
Foremost, I am a storyteller. Writing stories that engage and connect with readers at the emotional level is what I do or try to do. I have a structure in mind. Will it work? I don’t know. I embrace the challenge. So, I will introduce a new once-monthly series of reflections on “shifts in being,” based on Jim Bendell’s analysis and proposals in the book, Deep Adaptation: Navigating the Realities of Climate Chaos” edited by Jem Bendell & Rupert Read (UK & USA, 2021).
We live in troubling times. On top of that, we have our own personal trials to contend with daily. No more, no more, we cry out. Radical change terrifies me. From the moment of my unwanted birth, condemning my eighteen-year-old mother to married life with an older man she did not like, I have had to deal with fear and insecurity. In my late twenties, when the nuns found me unworthy to remain a member of their religious community, I had to find my way among the wolves eager to get into my underwear. Fourteen years later, after my husband of ten years abandoned me and our two sons, then six and eight years old, in Brazil, I had to stay afloat as I worked to provide for our daily basic needs and to keep them safe. Over time, I learned that fear loses its power over me when I confront it. These are fearful times. You and I have every right to be afraid.
I am currently reading Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master, poet, scholar, and peace activist. He writes (p. 38):
If you try to run away from your pain, there is no way out. Only by looking deeply into the nature of your fear can you find the way out.
Filled with fear and a trembling heart for the not-too-distant future of our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and future descendants, I have chosen to tackle the obstacles within myself against the dramatic inner changes required for deep adaptation to our new reality. I invite you to join me in changing the way we perceive ourselves, other human beings, and non-human life. Planet Earth is our only home—for now and for many decades, if not centuries, yet to come.