Recently, I’ve needed some time away from my goal of weekly posts to create additional, needed threads in my life, including new work, planning for the direction of Art of Earth, continuing ed, writing in other venues, and clearing out mental and emotional “deadwood” along with some of my accumulations of physical stuff.
The unprecedented derecho that swept through our area and spanned a line from central Virginia to Ohio was a beautiful storm. If it had not been so hot the Friday of the storm, we probably would not have known it was coming, because we don’t normally watch the news. We wanted news about the heat as we’re in a program that allows BGE to cycle our AC compressor off for several hours to ease stress on the grid. We got news about the heat as well as the warnings, which allowed us a little time to pick up loose things outside before the winds kicked up.
We watched the storm from upstairs with the windows open. It was as though a child were flicking a light on and off and pulse-spraying a big hose—on “shower” and “jet” settings—across the land. Despite the hassles we encountered in the aftermath—the loss of electricity, the loss of air-conditioning—the storm was beautiful and the periodic rain coming in through the screen felt good after all the heat.
I’m a longtime proponent of Lovelock and Margulis’s Gaia Theory, which holds that all manner of Earth’s processes are bound together to form a self-regulating system; Earth, in other words, is itself an organism. Like any living organism, it’s always adjusting to perturbations to maintain its health. In my years here and my observations of nature, weather, climate, and the like, it’s obvious that Earth is transforming.
Some have said that Earth is undergoing a birth. I don’t know that I agree. What I see looks more like Earth at menopause or andropause and human consciousness that is undergoing the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
So, the question becomes, How might we help Mama with The Change? How do we ourselves grow up? Can we do both at once? Can we not?
Growing up and leaving behind our childish demands certainly will help Earth. Giving back—really giving back—may mean some discomfort for us, but no one ever promised that adulthood would be easy or carefree. People make sacrifices all the time for children, for elders. Adults are also capable of deep joy when they behave as adults while keeping their hearts filled with childlike wonder, and this is an important balance to strike.
We will try to stay stuck at our peril. This is already happening. Staying stuck means clinging to set, often inherited or conditioned notions—namely, that things need to be certain, need to be ordered, for us to feel safe. But clinging to certainty or order means death, swift in some cases, but mostly death by a thousand cuts. The sort of certainty or order that we crave probably began with the advent of interest money and has crescendoed with our harnessing ancient sunlight in the form of coal, petroleum and natural gas. But as children of Earth, we are like Earth: incredibly resilient and adaptable, which means we can move away from these things. We are free to change.
Earth is our best teacher. Broadly speaking, lesson one is to observe. Just observe. Without judgments or ascribing meanings to what’s observed. This is maybe the longest lesson. Maybe the hardest. The one I return to again, and again, and again.
Lesson two is cultivating clear intentions. This can be as difficult as we want it to be. But a culture and a system of learning that privilege the head over the heart make it especially difficult. If you don’t want conflict, go with the heart. Allow all other organs, including the brain, to get in sync with it—not the other way around. The other way around leads to dis-ease.
Lesson three: applying what we learn to our lives. Again, not easy, but worth it.
The three lessons, of course, are intertwined.
The only safety we can really ever know is within each of us. We are born with it, but we need to feed it throughout our lives. It is fed with time observing plants and insects, listening to the birds talk, noticing the light at dawn, noon, and dusk, feeling the wind and the rain, eating a fig straight off the tree. It is watered with our imaginations.