Imagine a vast fire raging across the hills above your house, flames consume tall tress, smoke obscures the high ridges you’ve admired for decades, the expansive view, the fresh air, they are memories lost in the fear which courses through you as you plan your escape. A dear friend, her bags packed, waits, watches, hopes her house isn’t consumed by the inferno.
Today California is paying for it’s agricultural success with a twenty year drought which is likely to have been caused by farmers depleting the water-table, habitat loss due to crop expansion and of course, Climate Change.
Remember how lucky you are when you wake each morning to all in chaos all around you, in such times it is hard to get a grip, which is exactly when you need to. Right now, I think of our friend each morning as I face the madness we’ve been unwittingly plunged into. It gets me out of bed and into the list of tasks which need completing before our furniture can be delivered. Help. That is one week away! Help.
Despite my health problems, which make working laborious, I plod on. There is no choice. (hence no blog last week, sorry.) That I can’t work as fast, as well nor as effectively, makes it all the more frustrating as time shortens and our deadline gets closer. The trick is not to get stressed and to relax into each job, taking it as the only one. Otherwise we both find it enormous, impossible. This attitude gets things done and by the end of each day as we prepare the evening meal, we look into each other’s eyes and sigh, “Well, we’ve achieved a little more!”
Imagine though that those fires are about to destroy everything you have built up over the years, the house you’ve lovingly renovated, the garden you’ve tended, the retreat-huts you built to give you an income. All will soon be up in smoke. Your books, paintings, beloved furniture, your projects could all become nothing but ashes. That is enormous. Imagining our friend’s situation not only helps, but engenders empathy. I want to reach out and cuddle her.
It is our ability to feel compassion which is lacking in today’s world. Profit rides high and this relentless drive has addicted the world to efficient Californian farming systems, computerised everything and physically distanced socialising. Compassion, empathy, sympathy, love, whatever you want to call it, is seen as weakness, yet it is the factor which will help us solve the problems our modern world has created.
Think of somebody you love whose situation is worse than yours and send them mental cuddles. Genuinely offer them help. This makes you more human for we, unlike chimps whose societies experience 300-600 times more tension than ours at our their worst, have evolved to cooperate rather than be dominated by brute strength, which rules theirs. Profit is brutal. Cooperation comes from being able to lean towards one another and to gain from the input of more than one brute brain and daily doing compassionate exercises increases our ability to do so. It also makes us feel better for we are flooded with endorphins. And that helps us face the enormity of our own problematic lives as well as the vast complexity of Climate Change.
Hmm, I’d better get on with that bit of woodworking which awaits….