As people are commenting together about “summer weather” – how beautiful it is, how hot it is, how too hot it is… I can’t help but think – just about every time – well, that’s the climate crisis we are all in.
Cities, countries, groups and organizations around the world are starting to declare climate “emergencies” as storms become more intense and damaging, heat moves up to unprecedented temperatures as acute water shortages increase and people are dying of heat.
This might seem unreal to someone sitting at a computer reading this newsletter, but if you are feeling hot at the moment, it is all too real.
So, what is our response?
My personal opinion is that we are beyond being able to turn this ship around.
Having said that, I do live with a multitude of perspectives including hope, optimism, deep and profound grief, shame, anger, and a wondering thirst for beauty, art, meaning, connection.
The point in all this is, these are our last days.
Whether that means it’s because one of us reading this will die suddenly tomorrow. Like a friend of mine’s father in law. He was perfectly fine last week – except for a wee stomach ache. Two nights ago, he died – his body riddled with cancer but didn’t know it.
Or whether that’s because some of us will be included in dying from thirst, heat exhaustion, starvation.
Whether the end comes tomorrow or in 10 years from now, the question is always:
“So, how shall I live?”
and its companion:
“How shall I die??”
These twin questions are firstly a reminder of life’s fragility – any of our lives hang by a thread and truly knowing that brings sweetness mixed with bitter-sweetness into our lives.
These twin questions can also guide daily living and give succor in the face of such unimaginable scenarios.
Today, and most days, when I think about our collective climate crisis and eco-system and social collapses, I also think of these questions. My despair and my fears do then at times transform – sometimes right before my eyes. These dark places become like the dark mud in the lotus pond for me. It’s a sad time, yes. It’s a scary time, yes….
How shall I live?
How shall we live?
How shall we die?
For me, I want my life to be well-used up by the time of my demise. As George Bernard Shaw guided us over a hundred years ago:
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; the being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It ia a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
How might you look at your today or tomorrow if you applied the lens of knowing you are truly finite, if you could feel it in your bones that today or tomorrow – you could die – and in fact we will all die?
How might today be just that much sweeter and those around you benefit from that sweet smell.