“We’ve had unusually severe thunderstorms and record heat in May and June.” “We can expect continued above average temps for the month of July.” “Record heat and drought conditions persist through August in most of the country. Crop prices are rising!” I’ve heard these and similar phrases most of this spring and summer. And even though I know that weather is not the same as climate change most eco-scientists say that these extremes are the result of Earth’s rising temperature. This already decades-long persistence in changing weather patterns signals a dramatic climate change.
For those of us who know of its ramifications for Earth and us creatures who are a part of it, there is a choice in how we deal with it: we can wallow and drown in “the sky is falling, we are doomed” approach or we can fully acknowledge the problem and move into hope and action-into “the sky is falling, the loss is great and what can we do about it” consciousness. This is the realistic optimism approach that can be so helpful at any time of life but especially as we move into Third Age.
Realism is looking at information about a situation, either personal or global, with clear eyes and if a loss in involved, as is the case with so many things, being willing to acknowledge and mourn that loss. And then being open and active as to what new possibilities may come out of it. Asking ourselves what healing is possible? What is being asked of me now? This is not Ms. or Mr. Pollyanna but an optimism born of trust through the process of suffering.
Those of us who have had a life-threatening illness, who have physical limitations at any age or simply from growing older know it doesn’t help to deny our situation . What helps is to inform ourselves, gather and accept our support and look for ways to restore our health in whatever forms that may take. In the midst of this we CAN cultivate a vision of wholeness for ourselves and our Earth.
Joanna Macy’s wonderful book, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy, is a testament to this approach. She writes of honoring our pain, moving into a wider sense of self and time, needing each other and daring to believe. We CAN maintain our energy and enthusiasm within a supportive community with a clear and hopeful vision.
My hope is that we each heed that call in whatever way works for us and that our lives and our world is better for it!