Written for you who see only trouble when you think of Extinction Rebellion.
For those who are Extinction Rebellion.
And for those that, like me, have to take time to grieve.
As a Western consumerist culture, we are often asked to avoid our grief – this seems unfortunate, unhelpful and unhealthy. Today is about being with our grief, fear, and feelings of deep loss.*
Many, when they see activism rising up to help the greater community they see nuisance, trouble, disruption. What is less understood is that the people rising up are responding to a deep and ancient drumbeat, an internal impulse synchronized with, and activated by, earth’s pulsing rhythms. It is not an intellectual exercise but a primordial response to being alive… our rhythms entirely interweaved through our cosmological interconnection.
Music plays many instruments – a society is a mad orchestra of people playing different instruments, to different tunes at different tempos – we are cacophonous and often out of synch. One could argue that certain traditions keep us in place, bring us into sympathetic resonance with one another e.g. Christmas, Easter, Solstice, Equinox, Ramadan, weddings, funerals, sharing a meal – the social rituals of life. However, we seem to have trouble getting into synch across the cultural borders of our varied relationships to grieving and, simultaneously, in our ability to also celebrate Earth’s intrinsic beauty, creativity, and aliveness. These two lacks pain us.
Earth has traditions (and needs) too – the seasons, the tides, the weather, the tectonic plates moving through the friction of co-creation; ecological rhythms, life’s rhythms. Some of us know these rhythms as our own – and we cannot disengage. We don’t want to. Until there is grief. That’s the challenge – to stay fecund and feral when it hurts and tears at our inner fabric. The uninitiated among us, the un-prepared -(hat we find more often in consumer cultures) don’t like how that feels, do we? Of course not – why would we?
Grief is as honest as it is frightening… it can feel as big as the sky. It is embraced by some cultures and rejected by others – accepted as a publicly held experience or pushed into privacy – exiled to be carried alone. It hurts more and lasts longer if it is not allowed to breathe itself out through us. We can freeze ourselves into denial. Once frozen, we become harder to reach.
People who protest are everyday folk – we are you. We are also on behalf of you, as much as we are on behalf of the planet. She is not only our ally, or our mother – as if that wasn’t enough – but she is our grandmother and our great-great-grandmother. She can be our ally or our nemesis. Not one to be pushed around limitlessly, she reacts because she, like us, grieves but she does it with her whole body. She grieves her losses, the missed opportunities for connection, the millions of children she has created, and the ecological hopes she had in store within her own DNA. I’m not saying she is having a human experience, I am saying that when we have our human experience we are an aspect of earth experiencing feelings of a profoundly deep-ecological nature. Her existential crisis becomes our own, and vice versa.
Life must create life – that is its impulse. When that path is hindered unnaturally – polluted, damaged, altered, misunderstood – pressure builds up, systems jar and disintegrate, ‘shit hits the fan’ and coherence is lost; we return to the primordial soup of cacophony, to music that is both painful and damaging – the loss of coherence apparent in our dissolving relationships to change, and each other.
There is acoustic music and digitized music – the soundwaves are actually different. The former is curved and natural – our body can receive, and pulse with, that easily – and the other is actually a different shape; angular… it jars our own natural systems, affects us, and creates a physiological tension. The more we develop social systems that deny restorative grief, the more we replace the acoustic with the digital. I’m not even sure what that entirely implicates, but I know enough to feel an unnerving concern climbing its way up my throat.
Some people are rising because the tides are, literally, changing. Some are transitioning from denial to the slow process of waking up into the period of time we will know as deep adaptation.
Some of us still dream; not of cars and silly private jets, but of lush forests, deeply healthy ecological systems, compassionate and intelligent humans capable of empathy and connection to life’s deeply vibrant and inviting melody. There is an invitation here. An invitation to rejoin the collective pulse of life knowing itself as part of life knowing itself. Just because I am human, does not mean I am not also Planet, or Orangutan, or Elephant, or the Wind.
So how shall we grieve? That will be personal to each of us – our perhaps necessary privilege to find out. For me, I sob, run, sleep and wail… when I can remember to I ask for help, open my arms to another, or let someone else open theirs to embrace me, I sleep, and wander untidily across moors and through the streets. Feeling my tiredness and my resilience beneath that upper layer of soil, I make strange sounds, sing like an animal caught in a hunter’s trap, I curl up in despair, call a friend… and sometimes I write. You might dance… or bake. What I try to help myself NOT do is to ‘fix it’.
One thing with Dynamic Emergence is that it recognizes that we know through four main gateways; Rational, Emotional, Sensory, and Intuitive. It is the Emotional, Sensory & Intuitive that know how to grieve as it is so fundamental to our make-up to feel our way through, and with, our bodies and hearts. Because ‘western society’ (west of who?) favors the rational as an ‘ideological’ way of knowing, we tend to meet grief with our minds; the ‘let’s get busy and fix this’ approach. We serve the healing of this bias by being willing to explore digging into the ground of our being and simply feeling, instinctually. And yes, it can feel awful; consuming, devouring, relentless, predatory and unpredictable. But this approach can end with an integration of who we now are – we are transformable – that is part of our resilience. And the genius of our natural design.
We don’t have to do this alone – when we can go there together, and empathize, over time we may lose the isolation of hermitage and our hearts can become warm and generous again, our breathing can deepen and we can reconnect with the tentatively developing sensations waiting to birth new ideas. The Winter season transitions into Spring… but only when it’s ready. So, for now, dear one, curl up, get cosy, do what you must to nurture your own needs so that despair, and hope, may find their way back to one another. First and foremost, you are alive – feel that.
Grief honours life. Without grief, we do not re-enter hope. We can grieve in order to find hope. Actually, when we grieve our broken hearts, we light the way for hope to find us again. Please, honour each place in you that feels grief today. Take time, my dear human planet, and restore yourself – both for you, for us, and for her.
We will meet in the rising sun, in response to the pounding drum of our mother, grandmother, greater-grandmother, Earth.
Thank you for everything you have given. This is not over.
*(Written the day after the 2019 UK elections when concern about climate emergency is at an all-time high and the election of a conservative government who appear to want to carry on threatening our environment with unchecked business-as-usual practices)
Clare Hedin is a multi-disciplinary artist of many years, a performer, a social healer and the developer of Dynamic Emergence. She resides in UK and San Francisco/Bay Area teaching, performing, recording and demonstrating how the arts help us to become better people and better citizens for our home; Planet Earth. [More]