“Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth.”

The_crew_of_Apollo_8_were_the_first_humans_to_witness_the_Earth_rising_over_the_Moon's_horizon

 

To speak of ‘limits to growth’ under a capitalistic market economy is as meaningless as to speak of limits of warfare under a warrior society. The moral pieties, that are voiced today by many well-meaning environmentalists, are as naive as the moral pieties of multinationals are manipulative. Capitalism can no more be ‘persuaded’ to limit growth than a human being can be ‘persuaded’ to stop breathing. Attempts to ‘green’ capitalism, to make it ‘ecological’, are doomed by the very nature of the system as a system of endless growth.
~ Murray Bookchin (Remaking Society: Pathways to a Green Future).

Advertisements
Posted in Fluminism | 3 Comments

Cancer, journeymen.

IMG_5865.jpg

 

“When I mean abnormal cells, I do mean cancer.” In one sentence, the consultant moulded my existence into a finite entity. I felt shocked, blood pumping furiously through my neck.

He went on, and as he did, I sat back in the chair and tried to take stock. A flurry of questions then fell out of my mouth. My ex husband sat next to me, with his own questions too. This was a gynaecologist, not an oncologist, so most of his answers were short and unsure.

Memories of my father’s death from small cell lung cancer flashed through my mind. Then all went slo-mo, an oil slick of emotion, suffering my senses to numbness and the whole thing rendering me flightless. I can’t remember much else, but with a business-like handshake, I found myself being driven the road home on a bright Summer’s day, bound in a tide of sticky, suffocating fear.

“I don’t want to die,” I said to Adam. He was so good with me. And still is. We planned a way of telling our daughter, but softly, so she could adjust. That’s not how it went. She’s that bright Summer’s day, and quickly garnered the brevity of how I felt.

My mortality; she stayed with me for days. She left no space, her eyes, blue-ice cold, fixed on me and in my face. Anxiety gripped me. I panicked, so upon invitation retreated to my brother’s house two hour’s drive away near a forest, itself under threat. There, with gratitude, I found a sanctuary, with birds and newts and damselfies. Over those few days, I also found myself some kind of steady state.

Cancer does not like oxygen and a healthy immune system, so these things I can work on. It revels in stress, and I’ve been stressed for a long while. Strong, close relationships are so important; many of mine are lost, unresolved or just not physically present in every day life (the cons of cyber contact). I downloaded the Headspace App and still keep it very close, fixed now on meditation as a calming influence each day.

But inevitably, there followed a return to Cardiff. Difficult discussions, drives, phonecalls, delays, CT scans, waiting rooms, more delays and and generous GP intervention to speed things up (she too has been through something similar, the power of shared experience). The day I had my second CT, I was given my radiotherapy tatoos. Three prussian blue dots now decorate me, hip to pubis to hip. I was aligned and ready for the machine, ten years to the day after I found my mother dead from suicide.

That same day, the radiotherapist, without hesitation, told me straight as he fixed a canula into the top of my hand for the IV contrast…”You’re a lucky girl.” Organs by which I produced my daughter (womb, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix), a fibroid that caused anemia, and a tumour of self-defeating, once-multiplying, highly undifferentiated cells, are now away from me, unable to hurt me or my loved ones.

“Someone on high has intervened,” he continued. “Radiotherapy, chemotherapy; you’ll look back at this as a blip in life. Next year, you’ll be getting on with life again. Leave this to us. We know what we are doing.”

I told him about my mother and the ten year anniversary of a death I wished never had happened. He smiled, with faith. “You see.” And he looked up.

The machine whirred around me, in black and red circles.

“Lucky girl.”

…with the thought, I love my daughter so much. I want to be with her growing up!

The incidental finding of a grade three Stage 1B sarcocarcinoma in my womb after hysterectomy for a fibroid in May, means my lymph remains untested, but the scans show no spread, no swelling, no inflammation. Uncertainty still clings to my wings, however, in the idea of micrometastasis; rogue cells that may find traction again, somewhere, sometime. It’s a mental ache within me like the ghost of that suffocating oiled-bird.

I begin all ‘sterilising’ treatments next week. A six month insurance policy, the premium of which I must pay in side effects and some long term risks. I’ll take all the help I can get, and with much gratitude. I’m certainly not the first, and won’t be the last. That’s what I am learning, and fast. We are all journeymen.

And my mortality? She occasionally averts her eyes, especially when I remember the radiographer’s words. The day he spoke to me, on that mind-mark of an anniversary, I emerged from the cancer centre into the sunlight. I looked high up in the sky. Gulls were riding thermals, wings out-stretched, no slick and free of oil ~ they too are journeymen.

Again, gratitude. And with a deep love for all life.

~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Fluminism | 10 Comments

Vitanance

The Holy Bible. Genesis. Chapter One. 26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”

“Human beings are empowered to exercise dominion over nature and even to be participants in creation; and yet, at the same time, there are strictures against idolatry, which is a kind of overreaching and confusing human beings’ role with God’s.”
Michael Sandel

I have been pondering the word dominion; a word to describe the human shadow cast about our wondrous planet like a suffocating inversion of smog. Post-pagan spirituality and the far-reaching tentacles of capitalist ideals seem to have combined to culminate in plutocracies formed in dominance hierarchies as opposed to circular relationships and complexity. Consequential value-prejudice and subsequent decisions based on those values brings great pain and suffering to certain human groups, to microbes, to blue whales (and all life). Fluministic processes that perpetuate life itself break like glass. Exploitation of the many by the few has been the false summit. Any belief in a Logos of nature to be founded in aggression and competition by the few over the many may well be the single biggest conscious mistake our species has ever made.

Dom ~ a religious hierarch, a man.
Dominus ~ the master of the house, nus meaning ownership or relationship.

Dominion – the sovereign or single power over territory, the subjugation, therefore, of all others.

Human dominance being a wrong in itself, and stemming from a male oriented hierarchy.

I propose a counter, a word that rids itself of hierarchy between all living beings, at the same time, affirming life as relationships.

Vita (latin) ~ life.
Vitanus ~ Life is relationship.

Vitanance being the right in itself, stemming from diversity, proliferation and of the complexity of all life.

How do all life forms relate to this living world of over 4 billion years in the making, a complex flourish of organic processes? With vitanance!

~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment

Cupilustria

 

14977932681_e706185f2d_b

Photo by me

cupido ~ yearning (Latin)

lustri ~ wilderness/dens of wild beasts, wood, forests (Latin)

 

As I sit here in the city, thinking, confined by recovery, I am yearning for the wild.

I want to be where no humans live, where they are rare, where I can go in for a walk and feel peaceful eutierria with other species, interconnected and free.

Cupilustria is a deep feeling that is bridged to my awildian imagination. Special places are conjured in my mind, gossamer images overlaying and underlaying the slate roofs and brick chimneys I see through my window.

I close my eyes and engage all my senses. Then I begin to plan my escape.

~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment

Emotion, swift, thermal. (tweets)

Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment

Ecoliteracy for All

 

Originally written at the invitation of the Wildlife Trusts, 4 November 2015.

1097776_10201161225326946_1994416780_o

Photo by me. River Arrow, Daughter.

“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home,” as Gary Snyder once wrote.

Despite rejection from some quarters, the reality of the incredible life fundamental to Earth’s biosphere is that we humans are part of it.

Our actions are inextricably linked with its wellbeing. Anthropogenic climate change and the loss of living species, both individually and in their interconnectivity and breadth (biodiversity), are the twin flames of nature discordance. We are overdue in doing something substantial to change this.

In that context, why have so many people lost (or never knew) all sense on how to truly look after our home? Many have no idea of this context, further, have little understanding of the outcomes of every day decision making in life.

Economic drivers, with ‘self’ at the heart, dominate National discussion. We need to change this too. The roots of the problem are our dysfunctional relationships and, consequently, daily damaging interactions with nature.

What about the POWER of education?

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

Many nature-oriented people will tell you they have been inspired by both contact with nature, whether prolonged or as a treat, and also by key mentors, usually in early life. Instead of being some kind of random blessing, why don’t we consider a catch-all, a truly EGALITARIAN system of mentoring and exposure to nature reconnection?

I’m writing this to ask YOU to consider persuading a consensus to adopt our educational infrastructure to facilitate this universal need. You are the voter, you wield more power than you think. Radical? So be it. With the State of Nature as it is, we need this kind of ‘radical’ in order to reach a point where it becomes social norm.

Ecoliteracy (or ecological literacy), is a term coined by American educator David W. Orr and physicist Fritjof Capra to promote nurturing ecological values, and ultimately the well-being of the Earth and its ecosystems, through mainstream education (inside and outside of the classroom). It includes the consideration of the consequences of human actions and interactions via principles of living systems, designs inspired by nature, ‘systems thinking’, the transition to sustainability, collaboration, community building and citizenship.

An ecologically literate society would be a sustainable and resilient society that did not destroy its own home. Ecological literacy is a powerful concept as it also creates a foundation for an integrated approach to environmental problems.

Centre stage in any effort to achieve sustainable co-existence on Planet Earth the student, child or adult, an individual human person with empowered potential to address urgent and complex environmental issues whilst being nurtured herself into a life of competent opportunity, peace and fulfilment.

Around her, the learning environment itself is one whereby she can absorb, by way of osmosis, to think about ecological systems and her impact upon them, be introduced to a myriad of values and approaches and be inspired to select and then act upon her own. This is not simply an ode to science, per se, but also to colour, to creativity, to storytelling.

Here in the UK, we are already seeing kindlings of transition to peaceful co-existence with each other and with all other species, not least through a growing Ecoschools movement, Forest schools, Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots groups, and NGO facilitated groups such as Wildlife Watch (my own daughter was a member and benefitted from many happy meetings and activities when she was younger). But let’s open this opportunity up to all, cradle to grave.

In the spirit of equity and in reciprocity for all that we take from non-human community, let’s establish this system of thoughtfulness and action, so that each individual is empowered to act whichever place in society they choose to occupy, from farmers to financiers, mechanics to medics; across all spheres and inter-generational, with infectious and inclusive enlightenment.

I have enormous faith in the altruistic powers of an informed community. An informed community is the route to true sustainability and peaceful coexistence. There’s a natural justice to it. Crossdisciplinary, multi-intelligences (not simply academic), applied action. Not one person should be excluded. We all have something to bring to peaceful co-existence with nature, if only we all realised. It’s an exciting prospect!

We care for and nurture our loved ones. To understand them, we need to know their patterns, systems and interconnections too. It is simply the same when we look to non-human lives. If we perceive and understand non-human beings as extended family, kin, we’ll begin to care and nurture through love and respect. And we’ll make better decisions in everyday life.

~~~~~~~~

The Center for Ecoliteracy has developed a set of ‘core competencies’ which I want to share with you, by way of introduction.

The head, learning to know

• Approach issues and situations from a systems perspective

• Understand fundamental ecological principles • Think critically, solve problems creatively, and apply knowledge to new situations

• Assess the impacts and ethical effects of human technologies and actions • Envision the long-term consequences of decisions

The heart, learning to be

• Feel concern, empathy, and respect for other people and living things

• See from and appreciate multiple perspectives; work with and value others with different backgrounds, motivations, and intentions

• Commit to equity, justice, inclusivity, and respect for all people

The hands, learning to do

• Create and use tools, objects, and procedures required by sustainable communities

• Turn convictions into practical and effective action, and apply ecological knowledge to the practice of ecological design

• Assess and adjust uses of energy and resources

The spirit, learning to live together

• Experience wonder and awe toward nature

• Revere the Earth and all living things

• Feel a strong bond with and deep appreciation of place

• Feel kinship with the natural world and invoke that feeling in others

~~~~~~~~~

photo-on-23-06-2015-at-16-46

 

 

 

Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment

Going in for a walk.

14826072127_9b1a78a8e3_b.jpg

Wrought iron gate latch. Into the arboretum, Hergest Croft, Kington, Herefordshire. Photo by me.

Unwellness has loomed heavily over me for the last few weeks. I have been awaiting test results for uterine cancer; so tired lately that I have almost come to halt. But I love to walk. It has been something in me since a small child. I have explored and ventured, with or without parental permission.

As an adult, come rain or shine, daily bounds of five miles or more were the norm until my Ben-dog grew blind and arthritic. Now, he’s gone, and with anemia and hormonal treatments which bring on oedema, I’m lucky to go out for a stroll in the park. But I try, because it’s in my blood. But now I know there is more to it.

Yesterday, I heard. I do not have cancer, unless the total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy due at the end of the week reveals otherwise (I’m basically being spayed*). I’m moving forward on the basis that I am clear, planning my healing with a definite effort to begin distance walking once more. It’ll be gradual. But walking is my wellbeing. There but for the grace of Gaia go I.

Whether sloping along an ancient trail, a green lane, or an ankle-twisting verge by a busy highway, going for a walk is usually allied with going outside. We say we “go out” for a walk. We move from our enclosed home, under the shelter of a roof, through openings in walls, through gates in fences, to someplace out under the skies. We venture another kind of existence from which we will return, all going well. We also expose ourselves to additional life, including new microbes. And dust. We are essentially blending with the flow of DNA and elements instrumental in Earth’s dynamic multi-directional web of interconnectedness. And we leave part of ourselves out there. Sometimes, a long way away. Thousands of miles.

Non human beings do this too, though with more danger in open food chains. They emerge from the nest or home of relative security and protection from the elements, to move through to the opposite ~ to forage food and claim territory. Sometimes, for thousands of miles. Sometimes, if they have the energy capacity and sense of security, they wander simply for pleasure or curiosity, just like us. With additional wings or fins, they blend through different mediums – air and water, as well as on terra firma. The idea that we stand alone from all other animals by walking or playing for pure pleasure is an assumption, rather like assuming all other animals are not affecting. Ethologists are learning every day in their research this is just not the case. 

Home is not always a sanctuary, for humans and non humans. For some, going outdoors may protect against emotional heartache, physical or energetic hardship. All the while, rumination or meditation, exercise or rest, many reasons persist to go for a walk outside. There’s also the “flywheel effect” ~ no reason to walk, just a storage of rotation energy, a nothingness in the Dao sense of somethingness. Who knows how many beings can afford to be simply meditative. Perhaps, more than we imagine. For other beings, home has been spoilt by humans, either toxified by chemicals or cleansed of essential microbes. Worse, some have no home.

When we go out, we encompass all inwards. We have sense organs and brains, and we process all internally. But there is also flow, and in many directions. Life’s comet-tails of biology and culture are exchanged at the touch of an old wrought iron gate or the bark of a tree, or a water drop falling from a low lying leaf, or a dead hair dislodging from our scalps and falling to the soils. Think of all as rawly exposed and sponge-like. Ingestion is not the only point of intake. Think about breath. And yes, think about skin. There are other delicate mebranes too; apertures, orifices, cuts and vulnerable spots. We are porous beings even if we think we are solidly contained individuals. We are also holobionts, hosts to multiple species. Our own species is reliant upon others both within and without.

So, when we “take in the air,” we are doing so much more. Maybe this offers a way of becoming aware of what we dispose of and spray, emit and pollute. Nothing should remain hidden. We can no longer be blind to the discardments and waste of others. We have to be watchful and methodical. We are more than what we eat. We are our environs, our neighbours, our fellow non-human beings. In a sense, we are what we eat.

There’s a natural immunity, resilience, caused by continuous exposure to the good forms of life. Our cutaneousness; our skin and membranes exchange chemicals and water too. We respire through it, absorb and excrete. But our porosity and microbiome can be harmed too. Great care is needed now more than ever in what we invent through technology and release into the biosphere. Amphibians have such delicate skin that so much of their immediate environment is pulled in to their being. Their skin is also their main plane of immunity, covered in a microbiotic community which defends and repels. This is why they are so vulnerable to environmental impacts. They are their environment, canaries of the mine, and we are not so different.

Writers and philosophers have extolled the virtues of walking as a form of either escape or work, meditation or exhiliration. The choice of solitude has been expressed by deep thinkers; unfettered by the rythms and meditations of others. Socially, walking may strengthen our bonds by the mere act. When we go out for a walk, we may be on some kind of transformational journey or thrown into novel and challenging thoughts and feelings. A unity of opposites exists; the novelty and/or the sameness of the ‘other’ place is compelling. Knowing the tread, the feel and the angles of the lie of the earth, the senses flourishing, all helps to put us in mind of the why’s and the wherefore’s of the ancient, non-technical, bipedal act of walking. But, as I have said, there is so much more. Remember, we are also going in for a walk.

So on my walking path to recovery, from a place of facing a positive cancer result, to finding I am clear, to recovering from my operation and the huge shot of anti-biotics I needed, I know I am as much going in for a walk as out.

I need to rebuild my microbiome, in human solitude or in the company of others. There will be exchange. Sanguimund is more than just a consciousness. It is also a bodily exchange as well as a belonging. And floloca is the belonging of all life. I’ll feel less separation from indoors to outdoors; raw to what is flowing across me; mindful of what may be flowing through me and, therefore, all other life. I can engage biologically, mentally and spiritually with the living beings and their signs, communications and devotion, within all the elements, and in all the flows.

As I walk, one step after another, there is no real separateness between myself and other beings – our individual selves are ‘we,’ and we blend with others. Their health is my health. And this is true wellbeing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* Operation went well.

 

 

Posted in Fluminism | 6 Comments

MA Applied Philosophy submission on the moral status of the foetus.

For the Irish yes vote, just now.

Moral Status of Foetus – Final

 

 

 

Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment

The Wu Wei of Conservation; the personal and the impersonal.

P5030339.jpg

Photo of Forest Farm Nature Reserve by me

Wu Wei, the ancient human philosophy of a state of being, brings our actions effortlessly in alignment with the ebb and flow of the elemental cycles of the natural world, and no more. We cause less harm. Less is more.

That we may cultivate Wu Wei by visiting one place of nature, exploring as a child, all the senses engaged, emotional fluidity but no mental fight, is a building of strength to our cause.

But it is not all. The key is in the word ‘visiting’.

The strength of becoming of that place is process ~ a virtue. The result is ‘being’ of that place ~ a consequence.

Presently, so psychologically detached from nature has our species generally become, that nature is now a visitation, a pocket of the defended, a moment. Nature is somewhere we go and, therefore, will come back from. How wrong can this be? It is harmful, and on a planetary scale.

Nature needs to be of us, constantly.

How do we, instead, return to this state of constant being? I suggest by more ‘becoming’ through wu wei experiences ~ mentoring and provision of access until we have, each and every one of us, returned.

The goal is to live as nature without having to ‘visit’.

What is spirit?

The interconnectedness and flow, according to Daoists, is in the direction of the living and the dead, then of the elements, the heavens or cosmology, and finally the Dao, The Great, which is of itself – beauty and truth ~ spirit. Perhaps spirit is simply the beauty of truth. Perhaps spirit is the acceptance of beauty and truth as fluministic love.

I propose, however, the interconnectedness of the biosphere is healing. Being nature is spirit in healing and being healed. This is as impersonal as it is personal; as human as it is non-human; in complex directions, known and unknown (the dialectics).

Wu Wei, for me, therefore is an ancient and vital understanding of healing – physical, mental, spiritual, individual, communal, ecological, biospheric. Fluminism plays a part. The modern utility argument of nature as cure has ancient traction, but not as something or somewhere we simply ‘visit,’ record and display later as trophy.

And let go of it as power in the sacred political leader (Lao-zi) and even as a thing of purest beauty (Zhuang-zi).

Heal all by doing less, and by being no more than is necessary.

The Personal and the Impersonal

I am so tired. I have exhausted myself by trying so hard; first and foremost, in matters of the heart. I love with all my being and I hurt so easily. I am lost at this point in my life. Next, my family, in illness and death. The last ten years have been difficult. Then, in losing my beloved Ben. Such pain. In finishing my Masters and trying to secure a living by research scholarship or finding a publisher. Funds are dwindling and I am now unwell, due a total hysterectomy very shortly. My mental state is fragile once more.

There is a small but mature woodland next to the Glamorgan Canal. It has been saved from human development and I thank all who did this. I have to ‘go’ there and ‘return’, because I now live in a city. I hope not forever.

It is on a south facing slope and, at the moment, is in full-Dao; all life in sensing, and in emotion. That I should go there and feel it inwards too. What is environment? Nothing (in the Dao sense). It cannot be separated from any of us. To externalise it as something outward is to disembody oneself.

I go there to exercise wu wei, because, when I am not, I do intellectualise and challenge. I will always question. Despite it being exhausting, it is integral to who I am. The author, Robert MacFarlane, mentioned to me recently, ‘challenge’ has the word ‘change’ within. I challenge others and I challenge myself. It is process. I apply it outwards, but also inwards (there is no environment). There is just being. So I need the quietude of wu wei to heal.

I would rather not have to go and come back. I want to go and stay in that state of being. Let us all live life there, in that state, until we die.

If my challenges are for the ultimate protection, proliferation and abundance of the flow of life, then it is a form of love I call Fluminism. There is a reflexivity of being and defending against destruction until our species realises the pointlessness of it. And then we just are. But at the moment, in the face of immense planetary harm, this IS exhausting.

As in all other things in my life just now, not least love, less may well be more. I must let go, just a little, to heal.

All the life forms of the woodland I speak to you about participate in their communal being on multiple levels. Let it be well-being. Let me be a part but in the action of inaction. When I am in the woodland, I too, and my microbionts, participate. WE participate. But not too much. We do just enough and no more.

Ecologies are in constant flux, disturbance being vital to the proliferation of flow. So ‘we’ are not entirely passive, but passive enough. Sometimes, our minor disturbances bring life. We are sacred centres, like the beavers, but our intentions must be for the good of all life, not just our own. We are not separate. There is no environment and, by extension, there is no true ‘I’. To be separate is the disembodiment of the self.

This is the Wu Wei of conservation. Let it be healing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Fluminism | 2 Comments

Ecologies of fear ~ recalibrating.

 

 

I am picking my way across the rough and slippery stones of St Mary’s Well Bay and, for the first time in my life, I feel uneasy making the crossing. I live to enjoy this kind of terrain, or by rivers and in woods. Immanent flows, finding life-gems and feeling physically tested makes me feel I am ‘home.’ But today I’m just a bit wobbly. Like jelly, in fact. I berate myself for feeling this way.

I hear the oystercatchers playing their flute-song to Sully Island in bullet-straight lines, whilst the mud-browns of Mor Hafren gently cat-lick the shore. Passerines echo down from woods from which I’ve just walked, and I stop for a moment to enjoy Goddess Harmonia in all her South Wales glory. Again, that curious feeling returns, sneaking into my bloodstream, making my hands tingle. Insecurity and, yes, fear. Then, I remember.

I have just had an unexpected uterine biopsy for cancer, an unpleasant D&C-type procedure, and am awaiting results. It had skipped my mind for the last hour, whilst deeply submerged in sanguimundal presence. Then the memory suddenly returned with a bang. I have been haemorrhaging and suffering anemia. What else could I expect? The unease I am feeling has nothing to do with the beach.

Death seems nearer, even if it is not. I quickly climb a promontory, slamming my boots into barnacle-free cracks and pulling up with my hands on cold ledges. My confidence returns and I reach the top with a smile. I look all around me – 360 degrees. Feels good.

St Mary’s Well Bay is one of my favorite places in South Wales. It’s not traditionally picturesque. There’s a row of caravans and holiday chalets above the cliffs, and human littering around an onlooking ruin of a house is hugely depressing. But secondary succession spills down the hill, rolling straight through the dereliction, reaching over fossil-full layers, as if to touch the water. That’s so rare.

Here, there is a bone bed, with dinosaurs buried for eons of quiet, stillness, and turned into stone. In an overhang, flowstone ~ tufa limestone ~ spills from a temperate spring in the cliffs and forms yellowing stalactites and sinter curtains. Bryophytes thrive here and unseen diatoms live numerously. Wildflowers bloom in patches on the cliffs. Waders and other sea birds float in the shallows or pick along the mud shelves as the huge tides suck in and out. At the far eastern end, Lavernock Point, there is a little nature reserve. It was also the site of a small breakthrough in human history – the first radio signals sent and received over seas, if only to the island of Flatholm and then to Brean Point, Somerset. In the history of events, without that particular moment, I might not be posting this blog for you to read. But the man celebrated for the achievement, I must tell you, was a pre-WW2 fascist. Guglielmo Marconi was a friend to Mussolini, and even Hitler himself was a fan. Despite similar inventions by Tesla, et al., and ensuing court battles over legal patents, it is his poor judgement in friends who brought so much hate and death lingers longest in my mind. A resurgent fascism brings on a wave of goosebumps scampering over my body. There it is again. The fear persists, but I remember the other reason it exists.

Fear is a negative emotion that has evolved for purpose. It is a motivator for caution, escape, safety and change. There are ecologies of fear too, since all is interconnected. Fear can change for good or bad, at all scales, passed down through generations in epigenetic signatures. But as we humans are such complex beings in symbiosis with others in a complex world, fear may be response to events, imagined or otherwise, which aren’t entirely valid. Indeed, fear may feed upon fear itself. I know this as an intermittant sufferer of acute, debilitating anxiety after traumatic bereavement. I have finely evolved traits for survival of life threatening events, but my body responds similarly to things others find simply upsetting. Worse, my damaged limbic system actually seeks out reasons to justify the fear. The brain is trying to make sense of the feelings. Rumination is not a good thing for me. And yet, I am a ecophilosopher and writer.

Acceptance is categorically my best antidote to the severest of anxieties. The limbic system is so primed that any worry about worrying keeps the worry going. I found a book by someone who’d reached the same conclusion – Paul David, At Last a Life and Beyond. Then I attended Acceptance and Commitment therapy lectures offered by Cardiff mental health teams. That the fears we have are better off being carried along under one arm, so we can use the other to get on with life until we forget we are carrying the problem (and can then go back to using both arms).

I sometimes wish I could unknow what I know. Both personally and professionally. But I can’t. Won’t. I’m here on this beach today to record life. Life! The sea snails! Some are bright and very beautiful. They live modestly in the cracks of exposed synclines and under and around loose boulders, interacting, inter-flowing, as coastal fluminists. I pick my spot, reel out the measuring tape, and place my quadrat over the rocks. It’s fiddly and slow ~ I have to search through algae and seaweeds, but I complete my mission. I count and record all the snails I can find, make notes and take photos.

Here I am, no longer with my Ben, but out for the love of communing with my wilder kin. This is who I am, in woods, in water, upon rock, since a child. Happy or sad, relaxed or fearful, this is still ‘home.’ I pack up my things and head for the woods.

I take aim for the first small boulder, but it shifts, and algae morphs it into steep ice. My boot skids out and down into a crumpled heap I go. Laying there, still, staring into the sky, with stones digging sharply into my back, I imagine a tide racing in, swallowing me whole, a tide that would take hundreds of thousands of years to go back out.

Rising sea levels are already happening. This fear I have for the future is legitimate. Many of us who study climate change and biodiversity loss are feeling it. It’s going to be a huge problem. It already is for many.

All life-forms here on this beach will either have to move or die out. Multiply this by billions of miles of global coastline. Entire cities will need to move inland. Territorial struggles and resource conflicts will be high in all human minds. For peace, we will need to be reliant on good will ~ love. We need to start cultivating this now. But are we too late? A culture of hate seems pervasive. I start to feel anxious, breathless and a little bit angry. I quickly scramble up to stand, take a few deep breaths and and rub my sore back.

I put all the fear I have today under my arm, and move on. I pick my way back to the path off the beach, meander through the wood and along the road to the welcoming thrum of a busy pub. A cool glass of lemonade, ice and slice goes in and I feel temporarily at ease. Despite my fears, both real and imagined, I counter ~ this has been a good day! It really has. I have completed my mission and I am glad for it. I found beautiful interconnected life. I did it despite ongoing health worries, temporary disabilities and an increasing anxiety for our biosphere.

Sometimes, I need to be reminded to put that fear under my arm and carry on. It’s a recalibration. And I urge all who feel they are sometimes plagued by such fears to think consciously about how to deal with it. Please don’t avoid it. Accept, carry it forward, in whatever you are doing. Finally, you’ll move through space and time and find love again (or lemonade). At least, until the next test, slip or fast, rising tide.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

All photos by me.
Posted in Fluminism | Leave a comment