Happy New Year!
I am feeling good about 2020. Ready to begin, in good health, full of love and excited about the possibilities.
And yet, I am really struggling to find a way to engage with the world - the human and environmental crisis - in any way that feels useful or meaningful. I'm finding I'm weeping frequently I get emotionally over wrought and then i'm useless. I work with touch, creativity and the felt sense, so I need to be - at the very least - a well resourced nervous system for the people i am working with, to be any good at my job.
My land of birth is burning and experiencing the hottest days it has ever known, and western leaders are playing with fire whilst continuing to ignore the biggest issue of all. It feels like our species and the whole natural world is inside one epic reactive pain body.
Yet this is strange to reconcile with most of my ordinary, everyday moments. At home, with my loved ones, in my work, in my being, i am experiencing great joy, emotional nourishment, creative capacity, fulfilment and peace. For the first time in my adult life i can honestly say that finally, I am no longer constantly at war with myself. My perception of the world in chaos is not a metaphor for how things feel inside, it is simply an observable truth. This is new and I cant quite believe it.
So, as an emotionally resourced adult, what can i do about it?
I can write letters, I can donate, I can protest. I do those things. But none of that feels enough.
I know that hope is a precious thing and ignorance is dangerous. I know that to lose hope is to feel like we have lost everything.
I guess I mean hope in the human creative spirit: hope that life can regenerate. Hope that our whole species organism has some in-built urge to grow towards real health instead of self hatred.
On the other hand, if I feel into the opposite - The feeling that I get from pretty much all news feeds at the moment- 'all is hopeless' - everything collapses inside me and the spark of creative possibility is deadened.
The atmosphere of creative possibility is where everything worth birthing is birthed. This is not an advertisement for Pollyanna style naive optimism. Nope. Jesus, that is not what we need. It is not a time for ignorance. Cultivating hope in the face of what is happening requires commitment and guts. Cultivating the atmosphere of possibility for transformation inside of ourselves is urgently required. It is the medicine we need if any change is possible. With out this, where does it leave us?
I am making a piece of art (theatre performance) this year on this question of creative capacity in the face of depressing news and terrible odds. It is called You Aren't Doing It Wrong If No One Knows What You Are Doing. The idea is that it is interactive and as funny as it is painful. Humour that emerges from the discomfort of shared recognition.
I'm excited about it. It feels important to make. Yet is hard to feel that anything is going to touch the sides of the size of thing we are all facing. I know though, that if i think like that, there is no point doing anything at all. Art can't repopulate our natural environments with birds, bees and oxygen giving ancient trees, or re-mineralise our critically depleted soils and water supplies, but it can go a way towards addressing hopelessness and despair. It can open up enquiries that are difficult to address in more brutal head on ways And if we stop, something dies. If we lose our capacity for creative agency we are a lost species.
I know that Love coheres, warms, expands and is abundance.
Fear separates, isolates, contracts and is lack.
Both are creative principles.
So what are we choosing to create?
I know that we all have some agency in how we respond and that to deny that is an ignorance and a violence. It is also victim-hood. The ability to choose how I respond to a crisis might be the only agency I have... I know when I am in self loathing - whether that is personal or cultural, I cannot make choices that are healthy, for myself or on behalf of anyone else. I can feel that there are lots of people in power making decisions on behalf of me, on behalf of many of us at the moment, that feel they come from a place of deep self loathing on a personal, cultural level, on a species level...
I know I have some agency to make choices and make actions that come from compassion and kindness instead of fear and doubt. And that I have agency to change my response to situations that might for example be violent or debasing of another living human being.
I can't take on 'the news'.
If I work harder I can't stop anyone denying the climate emergency, prioritising economic growth over core human values, making pre-emptive strikes on Iran because they are anxious they might be impeached... sorry, did i let that slip out?
Somehow we need to stay engaged with the fuel of creative possibility or our humanity really is utterly squandered.
I want to listen with my heart and give what is needed of it. Which feels so desperately about honouring heart-full-ness, kindness, compassion, generosity of spirit & tolerance. It also feels, like saying 'NO' with clarity, directness and fierceness, when needed.
I can make art that says the things i feel want to be said.
I can support people to feel better in themselves through my bodywork practice and Feldenkrais.
I can support people to feel creatively engaged and more on purpose and more embodied though my somatic coaching and creative mentoring.
I can do that.
And I can be more LOVE.
I can do that too.
I only know how to start with what I know, what I am and what I have. What change can I make? It is small. It is local. It is about what I know of the human heart and the principle of creation.
So I'm starting there.
Painting by Tim Storrier (b.1949) - Evening Light Line (Journey): Point to Point. 1991. Synthetic polymer and rope on canvas. Thanks to my brother Jonathan for the introduction to Tim Storrier's sublime paintings of the Australian landscape.
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If you want to help the wildlife rescue services and fire fighters in Australia (because it is with me day and night at the moment). These organisations would love your support (thanks Susie Cave for the links via Insta)
If you want to campaign to support people doing great work for the climate emergency, these people at Impact Matters and Giving Green can give you wise guidance about where to invest your money.
And here are some other highly recommended ideas:
Clean Air Task Force
Coalition for Rainforest Nations
The Clean Energy Innovation Program - Advises policy makers creating programs for climate change in governments and organisations.
The Rainforest Foundation - good for supporting amazons and The America's rainforests
Sandbag - a think tank for developing better climate policy
The Climate Emergency Fund - channels money to groups doing frontline protests, like Extinction Rebellion.
Lots of Love,
See you in February.