PHOTO: ELIJAH STEVENS from LOAM SUMMER 2016
WORDS: KATE WEINER
Most people I meet my age feel the same eco-anxiety as I do. Sometimes, it gives me solace, to know that I'm not alone, and other times, it makes me incredibly sad. I meet so many people who are afraid of having children, afraid to think too far ahead, afraid to want too deeply.
Eco-anxiety is traumatizing. Eco-anxiety is embodied. Because no one is immune from feeling the hottest year on record; we can sense it in our swollen legs, our tired bones. When I feel the full depth of my fear, grief for everything we've lost and might lose, it's an act of immersion. All of me aches in this perpetually too hot summer.
But I'm learning to hold space for grieving and healing. By giving myself permission to experience raw sorrow—that acid element that courses through each and every one of us when we encounter the fundamental truth that this world is changing in ways we can't always control—I give myself the space to create the grounds for hope as well. I can't love what I love, fight for it as fiercely as I want, if I don't acknowledge the stakes. Surface-level living might keep our tenders hearts hermetically sealed but it's only through plunging our emotional and ecological depths that activated hope can take root.
I will forever hold steadfast to my belief that meaningful change stems from embodying hope. I believe too, that the future is no guarantee. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take actions now based on hypothetical models. Only that to assume that there is nothing but gloom and doom ahead is arrogant—and stems from the same thwarted notion that man knows all that's driven so much environmental devastation.
When you feel waves of grief, be with that grief. Sit with your sadness. Embrace your unease. And then remind yourself of these three things:
HEALING IS COMMUNAL
For everything that is going wrong, there are also things that are going right. From scientists working to successfully restore endangered species to sculptors building lush, life-giving vertical gardens, you don't have to search very hard to find examples of people who care passionately about this planet and are working persistently to heal our earth. Connect with those you are doing whatever it is you dream and work together to effect change.
We get so wrapped up in the future that we forget to wholly inhabit the now. Living sustainably isn't a sacrifice; it's a way to enrich our present. When you find yourself wondering Are my actions enough? Am I enough? return to the present moment. If your weekly trip to the farmers' market feeds your soul, then that's enough. If your canvassing work empowers you to live lighter on this earth, than that's enough You have to live with as much joy and juice as you can and that means allowing your heart to accept goodness, to be at home in the sensation of hope.
There are some things that climate change will never be able to change. So nurture what matters most in this life: your relationship to loved ones, your relationship to yourself. Love generously. Give generously. Operate from a place of abundance and not scarcity and you will find that the world opens up its heart in return.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
DIG IN FARM An Interview With Grace Oedel
HEART HEALING WORK by Kate Weiner
THE ARROGANCE OF DESPAIR by Daniel Pope