For my last prompt at Toads, I wanted to share some positive words from Joanna Macy, deep ecologist and activist, who has devoted her life to working for climate justice, and to awakening us to what is happening to the world around us. My distress over collapsing ecosystems has led me to seek out sources of strength and positivity, to help shore us up for the challenges ahead.
Joanna states, "Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now....with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart...It's like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim's Progress. You learn to say 'It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.'"
While I feel too anxious about the state of things to view this as an adventure, exactly, I admire that she is trying to prepare us for what comes next, much as a mother zebra finch sings to her unborn chick inside its egg.
Scientists have observed that this song, unlike the bird's other songs, is preparing her chick for the world she will encounter outside the egg. Chicks sung to in this way emerge smaller than usual, thus are better able to withstand a warming environment.
It is amazing to me that animals are adapting their behaviour to climate change, insofar as they are able, yet we humans remain stubbornly resistant and in denial.
For my last challenge in this Imaginary Garden, let us contemplate these topics.
You might write about staying strong in a distressing world, how you dig deep for hope in the face of collapsing ecosystems and accelerating extinctions. You might write about raising our inner Kali, the Dark Mother, with strength to oppose the forces of greed, patriarchy, oppression and destruction.
You could write about preparing ourselves for “what comes next”. Or you might be that small bird mother, singing a song of hope and resiliency to her chick.
I read that we were chosen to be on the planet at this time, that we have the stamina to rise to the challenge (though what I feel these days is bone-deep battle fatigue). I see great hope in the young rainbow warriors arising across the world to fight for their future.
It is hard to be aware, in a world of climate change deniers. But once we know, we can’t un-know. Maybe our words can help shift the collective consciousness. We can only try.
As usual, I am not strict. Whatever arises in you from reading these words will be perfect.
I have loved writing in this Garden with you, friends. You have helped my poetry – and my person – grow, and I will be forever grateful.
Let us keep on writing, whatever comes next. I pray it is widespread change of political will, wherein lies our best hope for a viable future.