When despair for the world grows on me, and I wake in the night at the least sound, in fear of what my life or my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the still water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things, who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. I feel above me the day blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
WORDS & IMAGES: KATE WEINER
I'm writing this from my little balcony overlooking the creek. I'm moving soon, to a new home with an overgrown backyard, and I'm excited for the beauty that will bring. But I'll miss my mornings watching the water ripple past. I'll miss sitting in the shade and sipping my tea and writing in my linen bound journal and reading from my luscious stack of library books.
This "mundane" morning ritual is how I rest in the grace of the world. And I've needed that lately. Overwhelmed by doomsday news, hot summer days, and a perpetual thirst for rain, I've struggled to be still. The fear that runs through my head, persistent as a ticker on a TV news channel, is that because of climate change, if I'm not living my best life right now, I'll never have the chance. I've talked about this strange sense of despair before—the fear that I don't have time to wonder or figure stuff out or mess up because things are falling apart. I've talked about how that anxiety makes me impatient with my own becoming and shortsighted with others. When I'm wrapped up in that reptilian fear, I look at my life—working a part-time job, living in a little city, writing my book—and wonder is this the absolute best it can be? Shouldn't I be doing more? Traveling the world? Falling in love? I'm no longer happy with the everyday graces of my own life because I'm lost in the infinitely frustrating world of hypotheticals.
At some point during your journey as a steward of the earth, you have to choose whether you are going to live in suffering or in joy. I've been suffering so much lately. I grieve deeply for everything we are losing, fear hugely for my own life and that of the younger kids in my life. I carry my sadness with me as I get groceries and break bread with friends and because of that, my blueness has grown into its own kind of comfort. It's so familiar to me I think of it as inevitable.
My antidote to the climate crisis is to find moments that make me come alive. I've had it in my head that the only way to truly feel that sense of wild, luscious, rampant living is to dive into an adventure abroad before climate change irrevocably changes the places I've always dreamed of visiting. But by fastening my joy to only one path, I'm sustaining my suffering.
And I want that to change. Something about moving homes has reawakened in me a desire to shake up my life, to be disciplined about creating joy and cultivating moments of connection. I want to celebrate the everyday adventures. I might not have a car that makes treks to the wilderness easy but there is wild right where I am. There are birds building nests by my balcony, trees stretching their branches. What about suffering do I think will bring me closer to the truth? I've learned from experience that giving myself permission to delight in the simple things helps me feel most at home in my body, most alive in the world.
So here's to the everyday adventures. To falling in love with my morning walks along the creek path, to enjoying my bike ride home from work when the sun is starting to set and the foothills are wrapped in an amber gold glow. Here's to the perfection of walking through a field of wildflowers with my friends, of going to the farmers' market and delighting in the beauty of abundant barrels of squash, eggplant, watermelon. Here's to spending most of my life biking within a five mile radius of my house and still finding moments of aliveness in the beauty of a verdant side garden or the sweetness of a birdcall or the tender grace of watching the storm clouds transform into a healing rain.
I'm so tired of suffering. Of wishing everything were different and of thinking if it was, then, only then, I could be happy. I want to be wildly in love with my life right now. And lucky for me, it's a choice I can make as I sit on my balcony and listen to the water rushing past and rest in the grace of the world.