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and I hope you do, will.

(this will be one of those long personal ones)

Once I wrote a book about a total re- orientation (it´s sold out but available as an e- book)
I write in the genre of creative non-fiction. This means that I write about reality as I PERCEIVE it at any given time.
Why?
Because I don´t understand reality. Because I want to understand. Because writing is my medium of change.

I wrote a book. The book was about divorce, court custody cases (that I won), it was about being a mother, it was about being a woman in dire need of re- orientation and the book was written partly on facebook thereby making it one of the first so-called “hybrid books” in Denmark meaning that it got a lot of attention, I got a lot of attention, the things I wrote about got a lot of attention but a lot of the things I wrote about were…. fragile.
Fragility and attention are opposites in our culture. It´s confusing but that´s not what I want to write about here.

I don´t have the best relationship in the world to my xhusband. The book didn´t do a lot of good for our communications (actually the book became kind of court case too) No matter how much I think all parties bear huge responsibility for things going down as they did I have to recognize that some people just want me to shut the fuck up. Some people find my words threatening.
This is why I cannot write about what´s happening right now. I cannot write about my son and his sickness and the way our entire world has exploded, raining down on us in bits and pieces.

I cannot tell you about this pain and the real and actual events that change our lives right now.
I´m not even at home while I write this. I´m travelling south, again, like a migrant bird, like the cranes who are currently waiting for each other on certain fields before they head for Africa, patience, man, they have patience.

I´m in someone elses house right now, Jeppe has gotten some handyman work, we need the money. Travelling south. Slowly. To see my son.

IMG_1186

Words are my freedom and thus I confine myself to something that feels like a prison. I subdue to someone elses reality, words, someones elses truth. It is a total surrender.
To give up trying to fix the wrong. To accept. To shut up.

Some of my readers have been trying to tell me this for a long time.
Accept. Embrace. Breathe.
Then I say “NO!” and I continue “I am a viking warrior, I told you!” and then you smile, maybe you walk away, maybe you come back.

I happen to be very stubborn.
It has gotten me far.
I never give up. I have never given up (Lie. I have given up before and it killed me, I´m a walking ghost)

I want to link this story about my past, my emotions, my way of being to something larger.
I think: “As above, so below”, I think “The personal is political”, I think “We need new kinds of stories on all levels!”
Climate change.

Accept. Embrace. Breathe.
Hell no!

IMG_1197

(look closely on that picture)

So what I´m wondering and what I´m searching for is a story IN BETWEEN these two opposites.
To accept.
To fight.

I´m not a new-ager/budist and I don´t respond well to people trying to push new age/budist ideology down my throat so please don´t. Let me arrive at my own conclusions. Allow me to be able to air my concerns and to be respected in these concerns.

I have an honest problem about this “accept and embrace” thing and the ego as illusion.
In my mind’s eye this often becomes an excuse for pacificism, personal comfort-ism and straight up laziness plus the all encompassing white privilege.

1. The nature of human kind is not to just “sit with it”, accept and embrace. The nature of us, as a species, is to fight, to do better, to strive, to aspire, to try. Defeat is not an option. Historically and emotionally this seems to be central for the human experience.

2. Ego is also central of your human experience. It might very well be illusion but we must recognize that most people in our modern times perceive the world through the ego and that the ego therefore is RELEVANT. Don´t belittle it. Don´t push it away. Don´t pretend as if you have less ego than everybody else because you don´t, working on not working on the ego… is just your truth.
(ego truth?)

3. I have a problem with this whole enlightenment ideology, that there is some kind of truth behind or beneath. I perceive it to be some kind of idealism and I tend to perceive the world from the opposite direction: through the matter, through the body, through the action.  I don´t think truth is somewhere OUTSIDE of action or outside of the body, in some flimsy idea- dreamworld and as a spiritual person I don´t work with the “spirit world” because all of the spirits are here all of the time.
Such is my experience.

This is why I have a hard time accepting and embracing climate change. Not fighting.

It just dosn´t FEEL right. Defeat. Total defeat. I can´t do it.

… only I just did, in my personal life, in my personal life I rolled over and said “I do not agree with this, I consider this wrong but I recognize that a war will be cause more pain to others than my defeat will cause pain to myself, seize fire, seize fire”

I accept. I embrace. I lose control.
It´s not even that I “lose” control, power, agency.
It´s that I give away. Freely.

(here´s a picture of Sigurd standing in the garden pretending to be a flower, trying to attract a bee. “Hey where are all the bees?” he said and I didn´t tell him I just said “Well, the bees have a hard time right now” He responded: “I´m going to call on the bees then”. He stood there for a really long time)

IMG_1145
Here´s my problem with the other approach. With fighting:

Since I got back on social media I have made one television interview (via skype), two radio interviews, a feature in Fyns Stiftidende (it says a lot about the correlation between social media and traditional media, it says a lot about “visibility”)
I have raised 220 dollars pr month via my Patreon page and booked additionally four speeches this fall (hey, I do speeches, you should really book me for your school, your local library, your cafe).

I have also begun a campaign about the climate conference in Paris later this year, I want to go and make a travel reportage from the event. This project has already gotten 4000 kroner (you can support the project via mobile pay 5380 0039 or patreon).
Right now I´m planning, researching and preparing interviews. I want to report DIFFERENTLY from the event (through the personal perspective, it´s what I do), I want to shed light on climate change from alternative angel.

I have also begun reviewing books for national newspaper Politiken and am currently talking with newspaper Information about another thing. And writing a book about the end of the world, naturally (in all truth I´m not really working on my Voluspá book at the moment though but I still stress about it)
Also I have canned a truckload of blueberries, lingonberries, peas and beans (kale coming up), I have rearranged the furniture as I always do and I have been sitting in the sun contemplating the meaning of life, floating in the forest lake for hours, going for a lot of walks with ThunderBoy.
I keep myself busy.
When I hurt I keep myself busy.

It´s a personality disposition. It´s how I am.
I don´t surrender. I burn out.

This winter I was having an email conversation with wonderful Mark Boyle. I told him about some challenges I was having in my community, he said “Just don´t burn out. It´s not worth it” (now he has kind of written a book about activism, permaculture, burn-outs, it looks really interesting).
Pffth!
Avoiding burning out!
Hrmpff!

No sir. Full turbo. Onwards! Onwards!

You see where I´m going with this?

Actually I don´t really see it myself but I think it´s something along these lines:

How to respond to climate change on a personal level (and serious shit in general) is not a question about either/or.

SOMETIMES you work really, really, really hard. You have energy, you make changes. Other times you curl up and forget.
It´s not wrong.
It´s not wrong for a human being to be flexible, to sway between power and powerlessness. It´s not wrong to wanting to forget at times, it´s not wrong to work like a crazy person, to deny defeat.

Couldn´t this be an element of the new story?
Can´t I both be a buddhist monk and a viking warrior, really, who said I had to choose?

Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we accept. Sometimes we share our stories of sorrow and defeat. Sometime we just sit there, quietly.
I don´t think we have to come up with ONE solution. One truth. One action. One approach. I think this very deperate need for something to be defined, categorized and solved… is part of the problem.

Over and out, sos and T4, I´m ok.

Ps. I like Paul Kingsnorth. He wrote a nice piece about climate change and the inherent flaws in either approach.
I think it´s very much worth the read, I recommend this piece a whole lot.

18 comments on “How to respond to climate change

  1. BeeHappee says:

    Andrea, neat that you were corresponding with Mark Boyle. I was just reading about him last week, and did not know he had a new book, thank you, will be looking for it.
    I am not totally sure why you would think that Buddhists do not work on protecting the earth. There were many Buddhists groups in USA writing letters to president Obama opposing certain destructive projects, there were many Buddhist conferences around the world specifically on climate change projects, Buddhist groups marched in many protests,
    Here is a video of Jack Kornfield, a long-time practicing Buddhist in the USA asking to demand clean power: http://www.demandcleanpower.org/jack-kornfield/

    If anything, unlike some religious groups, Buddhists from what I had seen are completely supportive of (and leading!) many actions to protect the environment.
    In contrast, some religious groups such as a huge number of evangelical Christian here in USA, or Zionist Jews, both of which groups believe in their liberation when this earth is destroyed and better one is created, are not so supportive on climate work. Some of the New Age spirituality is perhaps influenced by those same beliefs – but that is not your traditional Buddhism. If you ask me (but I am not an expert on religions, so this is just a personal opinion), big sections of major traditional religions had been hijacked and perverted.

    The Buddhists call for the action against climate change just as leading climate change scientists do. The only difference in Buddhist documents is the attempt to point out the root cause of the climate change. While scientific papers point to the burning of fossil fuels and greenhouse gasses, the Buddhist leaders go beyond that, and ask to look beyond just the symptom (the burning of the fuels) – look to the disease – greed, craving, aversion and delusion in the human mind. Which is exactly what readers of this had discussed and I doubt anyone would disagree.

    Best of luck to you with the travel and hope all goes well with your son and family.
    Very exciting on Paris. I am sure your reporting and work will gain ground and make an impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right and I want to clarify. I´m not talking about budism as such. I´m talking about the new age fluff (it keeps on bothering me, it has been bothering me for years). True budism and the stories you tell… that´s inspiring. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I read one of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s book (Crazy Wisdom?) (he was Pema Chodron’s teacher) and I remember a passage in it that I have oft repeated. It went something like this (not exact quote) When an enemy comes at you intent to kill you, you look into his eyes and with loving kindness you CHOP off his head!
    I agree with Bee about Buddhists leading the charge and also looking beyond surface symptoms to deep causes.
    I agree with you Andrea about the new age fluff. We’re going to stay away from that! I like how your honest narrative shows the progress of the warrior. In much the same way (and I’m sure you don’t see yourself like this) that Martin Luther King voiced his commitment and doubts in his book. We’re all like little versions of him. We do what we can. We do our dharma. Better is death in one’s own dharma than that of another’s. To thine own self be true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. David says:

      I love that Chogyam Trungpa quote, Renee. Thanks for sharing it!

      Bee: Yes, as someone with academic training in the history of Buddhism and Asian thought (though also, like Andrea, not really comfortable with the current new-agey-Buddhist melange), this environmental turn is something new in the history of Buddhism. But at the same time, Buddhism has a long, strong history of adapting to the needs and local culture of whatever place it finds itself, and finding new and unique forms for each place and time, whether that’s adopting local deities (yes, most Buddhists in history have acknowledged loads of gods), the needs of a particular place and people, whatever. One of the keys seems to be their awareness of the interconnectedness of everything that happens, and everything that exists. So starting from wherever we find ourselves, we look deeper for the causal ties the bind all of our problems together. And you can start pretty much anywhere, because it’s all interconnected eventually.

      On a lighter note, Andrea, it’s nice to note that you, too, have this practice of moving the furniture. Whenever I find my self stuck in an emotional/energy/motivation way, moving all my furniture can help to get me un-stuck. When I was in university, I would often move the (very few) piece of furniture in my little room to a new position at least 3 or 4 times every year.

      Best wishes for the situation with your son! I hope you can find a way through whatever you’re facing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When I feel stuck I purge. I go into closets and find things I’m not using and put them in a bag and give them away. I’m about to not have much to give away. Yikes! But anyway I think what I’m doing is psychically making room (as well as physically but I don’t really replace stuff as I do this so I’ve made the physical room but I don’t fill it up again). I’m psychically making room for something new.

        Like

  3. So I checked out Mark Boyle and the value I see there is that he makes people think about what they’re doing and maybe consider that getting by with less stuff is something to consider. Kind of like Mr Money Mustache. When I was 36 (I am now 65) I lived without money. When you’re 36 one’s youth can support this. When you’re 65 one can live without money but one is very very pitiful and probably in bad health or dead. So he clearly isn’t (I hope) advocating that people should do what he does. As many of the commenters say if everyone did as he did there wouldn’t be anything left. I do agree that “friendship is the real security” so listen people get yourself a tribe and then live in close proximity. Don’t live way the eff out in the boondocks where there aren’t any people to be friends with. That’s what we’re finding. We’ve come to the conclusion we need to live a bit closer in to civilization. Sigh. It’s so beautiful out here. I’m going to miss the mornings especially.

    Like

  4. To answer your last question; yes, you can. There actually were warrior monks, called Sohei. Had to google to find out that last term actually. So yes, you can be both.
    The Mark Boyle-book sounds interesting, but the mrs would rip my head off for buying yet another book.
    As for the contents of this post; I am all too familiar with the burning-up-issue. And yes, I am afraid it is part of the self people like us have to deal with. I tried the not-caring-routine. A massive fail. The roll-over-play-dead-routine…. Not my strongest point either. So fight-till-death is apparently the only viable option. Going down in a blaze of glory, so to speak. Yet choosing your battles really helps to endure just a little while longer.
    Climate change and the other natural disasters that are about to occur I believe we can no longer avoid or do something about. It WILL happen no matter what. What we can do, is make the aftermath as less unpleasant as possible by fundamentally changing who we are and what we do.
    As for the battles within your family I can do nothing more than to wish you all the strength you need to be victorious, but even victories can claim casualties or sacrifices.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You meant climate change IS happening and other natural disasters that are about to occur. For example: Here in California we have a drought. That’s well known. Currently the weather guys have observed that the El Nino phenomenon is the strongest it’s been since the deluges of 1997-98. (warming of the waters near South America) For reasons not clearly understood torrential rains occur in this larger area when there’s a strong El Nino effect. (It doesn’t always occur but more often than not). However the weather prediction guys say that there has been so much loss of ice caps that they’re not sure what is going to happen. El Nino may not have the regular effect. They say “We’re looking at a different world than even just a few years ago.”

      So I say forward into battle! I think we’re making progress but we can’t give up now or people will revert to blind ways.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. nicoleaugust says:

    “I don´t think we have to come up with ONE solution. One truth. One action. One approach.”

    Yes, nature shows that there are hundreds of different ways of being; of accomplishing goals. Sometimes many happening at the same time. Dissensus can be strength !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Lin Johansson says:

    You are a Viking warrior and don’t you ever forget it!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gaia X says:

    This is exactly what I’m struggling with at the moment. Should I protest and fight or should I try to understand and accept? And is it possible to do both?

    “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,The courage to change the things I can,And the wisdom to know the difference”

    As you say, Andrea, the ‘spiritual approach’ can, very easily, become an excuse for pacifism and non-action. And it can become a way of blaming others, that they’re not “attracting” positive circumstances, when pointing out that we have a huge crisis going on here. Like when I talk about my sadness and anger about the state of the world and some will ask me what it represents in “my own life” as if I’m somehow separated from the planet that gives me life.

    Talking about fighting….what to me, personally, is destructive, is when I’m fighting reality, fighting facts. When I think about all the plastic in the ocean and my mind keeps going “This can’t be true, this can’t be happening” well, it is… when I spend time fighting reality on a mental level, it consumes all the energy I could have used doing something, acting. I can’t remove the plastic in the ocean by thinking happy thoughts and I can’t remove it by fighting the fact that it’s there. Can I remove it with my hands? Not alone that’s for sure…and that’s another problem…when I feel like a failure, because I can’t figure out a way to save the world. That too paralyzes me and keeps me from acting, that megalomaniac feeling of guilt, telling me that I have to figure it all out by myself.

    What I can do is to keep relating to this; climate change, starvation, ecocide and relate to others, talking about it, finding ways to act on what is true for me. Whether or not, we are energy incarnated in psychical bodies, there must be a reason that we did it, incarnate, and I think that if we want to change something on the psychical level, we should do it psychically… that said, I do find turning inwards and processing myself very helpful and meaningful in the process of finding a way to live in this chaotic world. I think it’s very beautiful and true what you said about the spirit world, that it’s not somewhere “beyond”, separated from us, from this planet. The spirits are here among and I think that they’re interacting with us all the time. But I don’t think that we can just sit down, asking them to do all the work for us.
    What I think is dangerous, is to claim that ‘the universe’ or ‘god’ is you your side, whether it’s fighting the system or thinking positive thoughts to save the world. If there is a ‘great spirit’, I seriously doubt that it has an opinion; I think it just is…dancing, playing, creating, destroying and creating new life in a never ending circle. But we’re humans and we do have opinions.

    ……and I think this is spot on

    “Sometimes we fight. Sometimes we accept. Sometimes we share our stories of sorrow and defeat. Sometime we just sit there, quietly.
    I don´t think we have to come up with ONE solution. One truth. One action. One approach. I think this very deperate need for something to be defined, categorized and solved… is part of the problem”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Benedikte Exner says:

    Thank you Gaia – and all of you. I would have written something now – but you said it all. This is so important! Thank you for the post, Andrea.

    Like

  9. BeeHappee says:

    Thank you, David, for the 101 on Buddhism. And obviously it is not the only school of thought that espouses interconnectedness. Oh, and I am not sure what to move when I am stuck, since I have no furniture. . 🙂

    Ron, the Sohei although called monks, remind me a lot of all the Christian missionaries, e.g. the Teutonic order – which not by any means of peace but by bloody sword brought Christianity to the ‘ignorant non-believers’, ‘un-spiritual’ pagans. Shoving beliefs up someone’s throat with a sword is not too appealing to me. . You sound like a Buddhist to me, by calmly acknowledging what is, and working in small steps on what can be done. The biggest paralysis in my opinion happens when situation is denied and ignored, no it is not happening, or, on the other spectrum, so much panic created that actions taken are more destructive than helpful: e.g. blame, shame, tear down, etc.

    Nicole, Andrea’s paragraph on no ‘one truth’, ‘one solution’ and ‘one approach’ reminded me of the Lederach’s talk about conflict resolution. He talks about Nepali community, and getting together they called themselves a ‘kwati’ soup. Kwati is Nepali traditional soup made of 9 different beans. “Of nine beans, every bean retains its flavor. That is, every bean is linked to a group and still is very much a spokesperson, an advocate, and connected to the understanding of that group. But when they’re brought together, the nine beans create a flavor that’s good for the whole. So there have to be some of us that also think about the good of the whole, of the community.” The concept of a team that is very diverse in thinking but works well together is used in business all the time, preference is given to the teams where people are more different than alike – they are much more productive.

    Gaia, I think some wise minds had said, no one is an atheist, we all have our God, be it a man in purple robe in the clouds, a spirit of the wind, money, cultural heritage, another person, or ourselves. Something we love, fear, and trust. Probably based on that belief how our God looks/feels like, we chose some of our actions. And then we work so hard to convince everyone else that our God is the true one and our actions are the true and justified ones..
    I do not think separating two polar opposites: fight or lay down and die is realistic or even possible. Best of luck to you. Smile and do what you can do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Bee, I couldn’t be much more further from being a buddhist…..
      Who ever said monks have to be strictly religious??? Certainly not history. Religion has always been and will always be a great excuse for gaining and wielding power, be that economically, politically or by sheer brute force.
      And calm acceptance? Hell no either!! It infuriates me to see what is going on, how ignorant people choose to be…. But on the other hand what good would it do to stomp around mad as a hippo with a hernia??? So I try to convert this rage into a useful form of energy by learning what it is we are up against and by spreading my findings, hoping to plant seeds of awakening, wisdom wherever I can. And sometimes small successes occur and I can only hope they will grow and thrive… spread….

      Like I said before I can not save or change the world, but I sure as hell can try whatever I can to save or change my world.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Abigail Higgins says:

    dear andrea
    i do admire you! your writing gets it right out there, even if you have to sometimes backtrack or clarify or contradict yourself in an earlier statement.
    it is not so easy to be self-revelatory and to write about important, external matters. much of the breast-beating and soul-searching writing one can read on blogs is self-involved twaddle.
    you are crying out as an individual but also collectively, about what matters, and making all of us, your readers, think about what matters too. the macro and the micro as well.
    thanks.
    all best,
    ~ abigail

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Bill says:

    I wish you peace and blessings on your journeys. I like a saying the Quakers use: Way will open.

    Just as maddening to me as the deniers are those who are resigned to the inevitability of catastrophic climate change–who say that humanity can do nothing more for the earth now than settle into a hospice role. I refuse to believe that and I’m convinced it isn’t true. We live on a resilient planet, designed it seems to favor life in increasingly complex forms. Yes we have the ability to screw it up, but we also have the ability to tend it well. And while working for changes in policy is a good fighting response, so is simply be mindful of the way we live. I agree with Ron–we have plenty to do just changing and saving our world. If we all did that, the rest would take care of itself. Just my two cents worth.

    peace…

    Like

    1. Hi Bill, thanks for agreeing. 🙂
      However as far as climate change is concerned it has been shown that certain processes have been set in motion that we no longer can control, even if everyone would stop using their cars tomorrow and all industries were shut down. Guess hiw big that chance is…..
      Not only are the polecaps melting, but also the permafrost is thawing, releasing large volumes of methane into the atmosphere. This will speed up the proces even more.
      Fact is it is happening, no matter how much we deny it or roll over and play dead. Coming to grips with the grim reality will enable us to participate and react swiftly. Even if we have no idea what fresh new hell we will be facing soon…..

      Like

  12. Melissa R says:

    I found that a grammar error was actually very appropriate to the overall message.
    The phrase is “cease fire” – cease means to stop
    You wrote “seize fire, seize fire” – seize means to grab something suddenly and hold on.
    Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

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