"I feel the response to a changing world is not about going back; I like to think that human ingenuity and what we've learned over the last 150 years will take us safely down the oil curve into a more abundant, healthy and happy future. We're now living in the most extraordinary time, where we have the chance, perhaps the last chance, to rebuild our civilisation on a new paradigm of true balance with the earth and with each other.
Whether that happens, or whether humanity's impulse to continue to grow at any cost continues, with escalating wars, inequality and panic, is impossible to tell. But as Vandana Shiva, the Indian activist, said recently, "The uncertainty of our times is no reason to be certain about hopelessness". In the myth, hope was what was left in Pandora's Box. So let's move forward with our eyes open and with hope. Life with less oil could well be the the best thing that could happen to us."
Adrienne Campbell, Surviving and Thriving in the Feb/Mar issue 2008 of The Green Parent.
The day I learnt about peak oil something changed in me. I remember being amazed at how something could stir me so fundamentally, because I am not the passionate type. I am the slow burning, understanding and patient type, which I think the world needs equally. My reaction wasn't outrage or despair though. Perhaps I should be ashamed to admit it, but I felt relief. Relief and sudden exhilaration that this world was real, not a structure set in stone by people represented by anyone who has ever exerted their authority over me.
It dawned on me finally that this was my world as well, and things change. The future looked more uncertain than ever, the gnawing fear and sorrow over where we are and where we are going that had been with me for years was confirmed, but the reality of it made me giddy. Being in the midst of what you fear is never anything like the fear itself, is it? You are suddenly filled with energy, the certainty of your situation giving you space to act, freedom from that paralysing state of hesitation. The future was broken open, finally free to be open for anything - horror perhaps, but also the possibility of something else.
Similarly, when I decided to drop out of med school five years ago the image arose in my head of a railroad going dead straight ahead, the endless career slog filling me with no inspiration, surrounded by desert. I hadn't realised how infertile my future had become and in a way always been. How the lush plants I had dreamt of had quietly died, but more importantly, that there had not been that many in the first place.
I hadn't considered it my world so I had only fitted in as many little plants as I could, in the empty spaces between the rules and obligations, to feel as comfortable as possible, but in the end you can't thrive in a place you don't call home. This was not my home. No possibilities, only shoulds. When that world all of a sudden went up in smoke with my decision I was shocked. My future that had been so real as if I had already lived it was no longer there, it had never existed. Apart from in my head, where it had ruled me.
There are three doors in front of you - what do you see? my psychotherapist at the time asked me. Behind the large wooden door in the middle I saw a parking lot, stretching on endlessly, without a soul in sight. I am a loner and knew that sight all too well from when I retreat too far into myself. Behind the right door I cowered in anxiety - the place was a steamy kitchen packed with hurrying, loudly arguing people. I don't deal well at all with groups or crowds, especially rowdy ones. The door to the left was so small I had to crawl through the opening, under plants and vines into humid greenery and birdcalls. Someone was waiting for me there.
(What is behind your doors? It's easy - just close your eyes, relax and let the first image to come to you expand. Then move from there. You might be surprised.)
I still have to choose between those doors, always tempted to withdraw into the parking lot where I know I will be undisturbed forever, but also wither away. To overdo it in the busy kitchen, spending time with others but not being myself, and then want to run from it. Bending down to open that tiny door isn't always easy, I have to persuade myself when I am tired and bitter.
But all in all I feel like I have grown up, in that I know that it is my world, my home, behind all those doors and I choose to dream colourful dreams rather than accept the current railway destination. What we have in our heads is infinitely powerful, whether we know it or not, and there is always more possibility than we dream of. The world is a dream in our heads and hearts.
ps. Thank you so much for your sweet comments on my loved one's post, your well-wishes have warmed both our hearts. Thank you.