For those of you who have been following me for a while, you know that I’ve been fighting with a candida infection for over a year now. I’ve also been fighting with chronic, debilitating fatigue. I have an extremely strong will and if I know I need to get something done, then I can fight through just about anything. It’s probably this will power that has gotten me into the fix that I’m in. Just like with sports, if you push too hard and don’t give yourself adequate rest, eventually you will crash.
I believe in Love and Happy; I believe that these are things that are possible for all of us to have, that they are indeed our very rights as human beings. I am putting my whole life force into chasing my Happy, but there are times when I get downright depressed at the enormity of the task. Let me lay it out for you.
Human beings by their very construction need certain unmeasurable, non-marketable things in order to thrive. We need to love and to be loved. We need a sense of belonging. We also need healthy food with complete nutrient profiles, not just the right ratio of carbs, fats and proteins. Unfortunately even the best nutritionist only knows a part of what a complete profile looks like, so another way to state our need is that we need to eat whole and varied foods, with all their germs and natural chemical composition intact. In addition to those things we need stimulation. A certain amount of adrenaline rush, hardship, thrill, exhilaration, and sadness are all necessary to keep us in balance. Finally, at least as far as my understanding, we need stillness.
(I adore alliteration. It inspires me.)
So, it’s monday morning. I have to go to work today and teach young humans the pillars of the dying religion of economics. I don’t want to do this.
I have discussed it here in detail yet, but I have come full circle on economics. I no longer believe its tenets.
But that is a story for another day.
Today, this Monday morning, I just want to note that I am tired and heavy. My coach has always warned me that physical tired and emotional tired can cross signals and to always tend to both whenever one arises, and she is a wise human. So I keep in my awareness the possibility that this tired is just the result of a week of unrecovered legs taken through another 100 km day of hills and hard riding. However, my heart is heavy in addition to my legs.
Yesterday many of my dreams were drawn into question. Can I make it as a cyclist if at my age I still haven’t found people who will teach me how it’s done? Do I have the courage to race alone in a sport designed for team strategy? If after all this work and effort I still can’t find what I’m looking for, is my dream to create it for other women misguided?
Where do I go from here?
不安で胸がいっぱい。My heart is full of uncertainty.
And in spite of this, Monday has arrived just as it has every week of the past 1642 weeks of my life. Ready or not the next step must be taken. Heavy or not, recovered or not, tired or not, inspired or not.
And so I go forth into the wilderness that is a (not so) young (not so feminine) woman’s future.
In my morning ritual of browsing the interwebs half mindedly for inspiration and company, I found another article ridiculing the platform “every child deserves a mother and a father.” The fodder for the ridicule? A man murders his wife while all seven of his children are at home. This is clearly proof that the movement is doomed and gay people deserve equal rights, right? Wait, you can’t see that? I thought it was supposed to be obvious.
Let’s break it down. First, the movement attempts to link heterosexual norms with the transcendental rights of children to be protected, loved and given every chance in the world for success. There’s an appeal here to the holiness of children and it’s put in contrast to the self centerednes of adults. Wrapped in this motto is the idea that a lesbian who wants to raise a child with her partner is putting her own sexual desires above the needs of the child because she trades heterosexual partnering from homosexual partnering, thus depriving the child of its right to have a male presence as it grows. When used against homosexual couples seeking equal marriage rights, the every-child movement is ultimately saying that sex is dirty, homosexual sex is dirtier, children are holy, and anyone who would put their own needs above a child’s is a Bad Person.
In my recent post on the mind body connection, I make the claim that the mind cannot operate properly without the body being given appropriate care which includes adequate sleep, nutrition and sex. Regardless of your style of sex or choice of partner, if you are denying yourself sexually, your mind cannot occupy the space of openness and love that children need to grow in health. So in a way, the mother/father movement is also saying that mental health of the adult is not a necessary requirement for them to care for their children. Now we can see the argument begin to break down. On the one hand, a male and female presence are considered necessary on a moral level to raise a child and the underlying reason here is that they contribute to the balanced psychological development of that child. On the other hand, the same psychological underpinnings are ignored when the movement is used to attack same sex couples because it denies the well established link between parental mental health and the health and development of their children.
At this point, I tend to lose my ability to empathize with the warring factions on this mother/father debate. LGBT supporters claim this is all about the heteros versus the homos, and since the homos are the minority and are being discriminated against they get to claim the moral high ground. Since this argument is obviously not about psychology at all (since neither side seems to make well grounded and internally consistent psychological arguments), it breaks down into a shouting match about whose rights are more important, and who is “obviously” more ridiculous for holding to their beliefs. I lose my patience quickly with these types of debates because neither side seems interested in discovering Truth or advancing on the fundamental problem. Here, the fundamental problem is about discrimination, but it is being made to be about children. I believe that if it were about children, both sides would discover that they fall leagues behind the standard for optimal childcare.
Yesterday I finished my service volunteering for the Fukushima-ko Genki Mura Camp, a 100% volunteer based nature camp for child refugees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Because of their age and small bodies, the levels of radiation still present in their home towns are too high for them to be able to play outside without risking serious long term health problems. They are not even able to play in the grounds at their elementary schools because of the contamination and must spend all day every day inside. If you want to know what pathos is, it’s a nine-year-old child who has never been allowed outside to play. Because we believe that Every Child Deserves to Play Outside, we organize and run this camp twice a year in the warmer months so that these kids can have a respite from the confinement of the remainder of the year. The children at the camp stole my heart as they have done every time I see them.
Because the camp was volunteer based, everyone who helped had their own jobs and their own lives that they had to attend to. Some people could only come for a day, or for a few hours. A handful made it for the whole week. However, the kids never took more than a few seconds to incorporate the newcomers into their games. To them, every adult was a plaything and they were climbing on us, wrestling us, crying on our shoulders, napping in our laps, all within knowing each other for barely a few hours. The first thing that I learned about children from volunteering is that children do not come with a built in emotional slot for mom and dad. Children want to be loved, and need to be loved, and they don’t know yet how to be suspicious of the types of betrayals and let downs that we adults come to anticipate. More importantly, they don’t understand the morality behind a mother and a father caring for them. All they know is that there are people that care for them, they need that care, and when there is a loving adult presence in their life they will latch on and soak up that care for as long as it’s available.
The second thing I learned about children from volunteering is that it doesn’t really matter if you produced them with your own genitals, they are fantastic, beautiful creatures. On the last day we all gathered in a circle to say our goodbyes. Each volunteer stood up and said a few words to the kids about their impressions during the week. There were many wet eyes and most of them were from the grown ups. If only a mother and father can love their child, if the biological connection was what really made the affection between children and their caretakers so strong, then why would we, a group of adults with our own lives and our own families, be so torn to part with some random kids that we’ve known for only a few days? Just like children are capable of taking love and care from strangers, we adults are wired to love and care for children, plain and simple.
At camp this last week, some two dozen children were raised, cared for, educated and inspired by over thirty different adult volunteers. The ages of the volunteers ranged from high school senior to mid-fifties. There were men and women, married and single, straight and… me. I’m neither male nor female. I’m not married and I’m definitely not “straight.” The adults knew most of that. The kids picked up on it immediately and you know? They didn’t care. To them I was just another plaything among the other tall and slow playthings that had come to hang out with them that week. And if i needed any proof that my influence was good for them, all I had to do was watch and listen as they shouted their goodbyes out the bus window on their way back home.
Children are magical and wonderful. They deserve to be loved because they are humans, just like we are. And they are precious to us because in children can we see a reflection of the world as it would be without our judgment and our adulteration. For our sake, we should not debate whether a mother and a father, or two mothers or two fathers, or only one parent is the right set up to raise a child because they are all wrong. The right way to raise a child is to expose it to all the love and all the care that we can find for it in this world, wherever we can find it and for as long as we can provide it, even if we may never see that child again.
I just read this article on SLOG. I can’t believe it! Somewhere in the United States things are moving in the right direction! I only hope, like the gay marriage movement, that the desperately needed minimum wage measurements will gain momentum across other states in the nation. This is so important! No society can call itself just when its laws allow for organizations (things without soul or feeling) to prevent its citizens from having their basic needs of food, shelter, health care and community met.
And on a side note: No economics plan that does not provide for these is viable, sustainable or worth a minute of any one’s time.
What do weasels, fetishes and sports have in common? If you try and connect with people who are interested in any of these, you will inevitably find websites or chatrooms filled to the brim with people whose lives are defined by these.
It’s a thing. Media coverage in almost any form on almost any topic you could be interested in will inevitably focus on an audience whose interest excludes all other aspects of their life. It’s almost as if our society, our global society, thinks that people can’t have multiple interests, or only mild passions, or that their own identities cannot be defined by more than one thing at a time. I’ve seen it everywhere and it’s maddening.
I think relationships are the hardest to deal with. If you are a mom you are only a mom! You can be a working mom, a sexy mom, a stay-at-home mom, but you can’t be, for example, a professional athlete. On the other hand, if you are a pro athlete, you can have babies, but only as a hobby. Or else you have to quit being an athlete. You can’t possibly be a top level athlete AND be serious about raising your kids.
If you are single, you can have an identity that includes lots of stuff. However, if you start dating someone you are “Brangelina” — inseparable and unidentifiable from your significant other. We can go sexual identity, too. If you are polyamorous then your entire life is organized around managing your relationships.
I remember when I first got my weasels and I was trying to figure out how to feed them a healthy diet. I joined the American Ferret Association facebook group and was immediately bombarded with battle cries of the raw diet. I was criticized if I didn’t talk about my weasels as the most important thing in my life, if I didn’t think they were smarter or cuter than all other animals, and worst, if I dared suggest that life as a single woman in the Ivory Towers meant feeding raw was too much work for me. Nothing could possibly be more important than my weasels!
I am most certainly tired of all this single mindedness. I think, though, more than just tired I am also lonely. It’s hard to find community when everything you see is so focused on the extremes and you feel like the only person in the world who dares care about her job and her hobbies. Is it so incomprehensible that I might want a strong body and be a woman at the same time? Is it such a sin to feed raw meat as a supplement to kibble? Can I possibly enjoy sex without its pursuit being my entire identity? The resounding answer that comes to me through the Internet is ‘No, absolutely not’.
Perhaps here is my solution: stop seeking community through the Internet. But does any one alive today still find community in the real world? Please, teach me how.
Acknowledgments: This post was inspired in part by The Goddess of Java, the one blogger I know who continues to live and write about real people having real, complete lives.
I’m tired lately for so many reasons.
My sweet little girl-weasel has been fighting illness for a solid month now. At first she stopped eating and then ran an extremely high fever for half a week. Her weight dropped precipitously and she started coughing in the night, making a sound like screaming in pain. Three courses of antibiotics and three mysteriously, and suddenly, swollen and useless feet later and we are finally beginning to understand her condition: congestive heart failure. I’ve been feeding her the majority of her meals for a month now, alarms set on my watch to go off throughout the day so I don’t forget, and taking her to the vet twice a week for the whole length of her illness. I feel like a single parent without a road map: I don’t sleep at night because every sound she makes wakes me, I don’t eat properly because my focus is on her, I never leave my house to socialize because I have such a tiny, wonderful thing in my care.
I keep myself entertained by cooking and rewatching the same 7 films I have downloaded onto my hard drive. Lately they all make me cry. I think my feelings are getting stopped up inside me and the movies pull the plug on the pressure valve and they all come gushing out. I don’t even know why there is so much cry inside me. One guess is that this is years of suppressed emotion, years of self imposed “strength” finally being stripped away and detoxified from my heart, like that cough that lingers long after the cold has passed. I’m trying not to fight it, though the reflex is to choke the tears back every time they well up. It’s natural, is it not?
I find that my emotions tend to come in waves. I’ll get a wave of happy and a wave of sad. Sometimes they’ll overlap each other and I’ll get blubbery looking up at the night sky on the way home. Lately I seem to have tapped into a well of past anger. I’m sure it’s just a massive time lag as the experience when I remember the episode is every bit as bitter as I knew it should have been back when I was busy being rational and cool headed and completely missing my life as it was happening to me. Everything that upsets me now comes out as bitter hatred, whether it’s for the constant construction that I can’t seem to escape no matter how far away I move, or the memory of past lovers’ disregard for my feelings or needs. The other day I nearly lost it because my most recent partner wants to consult my past partner, a man-child who is in our social circle, about being involved with me. Frankly, I don’t give a shit what the two of them talk about, but somehow it made me feel like a commodity being rented out and before I knew it I was spitting rage at the very idea.
Most likely, I am just tired. Everything I do these days feels like a struggle and when I get myself on top of one task, I find I’ve let another fall apart. My stomach is upset, so I go back to my candida diet only to find that my body can’t produce enough heat to keep me warm in the evenings and I end up burning up all my oil to bring the house to a tolerable temperature. Next thing I know I can’t make it to the grocery store because I have to buy more oil and I have to decide if I want to be full and cold or warm and hungry. In the background, my little girl is waiting for me, depending on me, and there is no one to help me out but me. Living alone — not having a family — it’s difficult. It’s not the way humans were built. I often wish society would get it’s shit together and realize that it’s collectively killing itself, but it’s a long way down before we hit rock bottom. It’s long, and it’s lonely and it’s incredibly tiresome.
I’m very tired these days.
It recently dawned on me that my brain doesn’t organize the world the same way most other people’s brains do. Where as most people tend to simplify the world around them into predetermined categories, I have a tendency to look at the parts that make things up and draw similarities on a more basic level. For better or for worse this seems to be an obstacle that I need to overcome when I communicate with people.
The most common area where my brain gives me difficulty communicating with people is most surely in human relations. Most Americans, as well as Japanese, tend to view human relationships as being in one of the following stock categories: professional or personal, family, friend, neighbor, acquaintance or romantic partner. There may be some finer categories that people use, too, such as “sex friend” which is a kind of sub category of romantic partner that includes the sex but not the romance or love. For the most part, however, these categories are distinct. Rarely will someone find themselves fulfilling more than one of these roles at a time. For example, your mother might also be your friend, but you wouldn’t call her to go “out with your friends,” which puts her firmly in the category of family. At the same time the characteristics of each of these relationships do very much overlap.
Family and romantic partners are expected to love you. Sometimes friends love each other. Only romantic partners and sex professionals can satisfy your physical needs, though. In fact, hugging members of the opposite sex (among straight people) borders on a violation of the implicit exclusivity of the romantic relationship. On the other side of the spectrum, professional contacts are expected to refrain from emotional interaction. There are many other rules and characterizations of the many types of human relationships as well.
The way my brain works is on the level of those characteristics. My brain looks at a human relationship and asks whether or not there is love, or sex, or an exchange of goods or services. Sometimes the answers align well with the standard relationship categories; sometimes the align less well. For example, what does one call a relationship where there is love and sex and an exchange of market services? Can it be possible to be friends with your boss?
The most difficult for me is trying to communicate about any relationship that involves sex. Most people are quick to drop it into the sex friend category, or the romantic category. The difficulty is with the love factor. Sex friends are not normal friends in the sense that they are expected to not have strong feelings for each other or to be particularly involved in each other’s lives. So if you add love to a sex friend, do you get a romantic partner? No, because romantic partners are for the most part expected to be preparing for a long term monogamous relationship, such as marriage. People who believe in True Love find this conclusion natural because if you loved each other Truly, there would be no reason not to marry. However marriage is a very different relationship than friends or lovers and involves its own set of expectations both within and from outside of the relationship. So what does one call a loving sexual relationship that never moves closer towards marriage? The answer is that you don’t, really. So far I have found no word to communicate that concept.
If you break down human relationships into their critical components, it is quite obvious that a relationship with sex, friendship, and love can be different from a romantic partnership with its expectation of exclusivity. The difficulty I think most people have is that they aren’t looking at the pieces, they are looking at the whole item. This pattern isn’t limited to human relationship categories either.
Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who is quite passionate about politics and who is mostly self taught on the subject. At some point in our conversation I found myself very confused because my friend is also devoutly liberal in his politics, but he was violently attacking economic policies that would help the liberal agenda because he thought they were republican propaganda. I would open my mouth to comment, only to close it again in confusion as the conversation took what seemed to me like a 180º in its ideology. What I realized after having let the conversation settle for a few hours was that my friend’s approach to policy was from a different starting point than mine. He sees policy as a battle among competing political forces whereas I see policy as a collection of changes, each affecting a different piece of the population in its own way. Because I look at policy as being good or bad for the population and not as part of a political agenda I have often been stumped when people ask me what my political leanings are. I simply don’t understand how the divisions are drawn.
Some people say that I am smart. I am not sure if that’s the right word. I know that my brain’s stubborn insistence on seeing the world as a collection of trees rather than a forest has enabled me to see striking patterns among its leaves that others may overlook. At the same time it also complicates my daily life. Categories are helpful in a complicated world that insists on changing faster than any human living in it can manage to adapt. For many of us, it’s enough to know if we are friends on the left, or professional acquaintances on opposite sides of the spectrum and for that categories are infinitely easier to work with. My greatest hope is that perhaps one day I will meet someone who is really good at seeing the larger picture and who will take my hand and guide me through the forest as I spend my time inspecting all the myriad beings inside it. I know I have a lot to offer the world, but I also know that if I spend all my time seeing patterns that I will have no energy to share those insights with others. Ultimately both skills are necessary to achieve change.
It’s a cold, rainy morning in Tokyo. I have all my heaters on, included my electric carpet, and a pot of ginger chicken broth simmering on my kerosene stove. My weasels are in all likelihood cuddled up deep in the folds of my goosedown winter comforter. With a pot of tea at hand and my home filled with the warm smells of winter, this is the perfect time to share the cumulation of many years of thinking on the subject of happiness, health and the future of our planet. So pour yourself a mug, put on your fluffy socks and grab a blanket; this might be a long post.
To say my journey started when I decided to get divorced would be a simplification of the process. Indeed I have felt a strong need to be resilient ever since I was a child. I had asthma and I had to wear glasses and I lived in a house in a suburb surrounded by concrete. I grew up in Miami and hurricane Andrew arrived when I was ten years old. Much to my dismay, I slept through the whole storm. However, when I woke up the world around me was pulsing and shuddering with the aftermath of natural force that had just blown through the city. I felt alive walking through the debris covered streets, climbing over and under fallen trees and feeling the wet exhausted wind against my skin. My house was old, made of solid concrete and we had bolted it down well. We had plenty of water and food so I did not feel afraid, only exhilirated by the jungle that had grown around my neighborhood overnight. To me, the days after hurricane Andrew were not a calamity, but a brief foray into the wilderness where all things truly alive reside.
I remember walking the streets and thinking to myself: I have to do something about my glasses. If a true disaster were to befall us I would be crippled without my glasses. When five years later Lasik became a thing, I couldn’t get the procedure done fast enough. While my Grandma encouraged me to see a doctor for my asthma and always carry an inhaler with me, I chose a different route. At twenty I decided I was done with being physically handicapped and so I began running. It was terrible. I couldn’t make it to the end of the block without a stinging pain spreading through my chest followed by an acute sense of hardening in my lungs. I was ashamed of my weakness and so I would run alone and in spurts. Sometimes not running for months at a time because it was just too difficult for me. My lungs were my weakest point back then and somehow I knew I had to make them strong. Eventually I ran a full marathon and raced a half-century. It took me nearly ten years but now my body is finally strong enough that I can say I am ready.
Ready for what? I am only now beginning to see what it is that I have somehow always known I needed to prepare for. As a child and then as a young adult in school, and even now as a professor of economics, I keep hearing the same story over and over: our world is dying. The foxes have disappeared from the neighborhood, the fish are disappearing from the oceans, the trees are disappearing from the forests and the mountains are disappearing from the horizon. I know that “global warming” is a subject of political debate and many treat it like a religious belief, too, “Do you believe in global warming?” I don’t need scientific proof and I know better than to believe that the health of our planet can only be observed through the minute fluctuations (+/- 4ºC) of the average annual temperature. I can see the death and destruction all around me. Never once in my life have I seen a building torn down and a forest or a park put in its place. It has always only ever gone one way. To me, the growth of human civilization is undifferentiable from the death of the planet. Economists talk about the efficient “allocation” of resources, but we don’t allocate them, we just use them up. We don’t move a rainforest to build a cattle pasture, we simply burn it down.
If you look at the history of humanity it is tempting to conclude that this destruction and greed is just human nature. The endless and single-minded pursuit of profit is built into our DNA. The commercial conquest of the world is simply a modern expansion of our Darwinian need to survive and become fitter. Just as the Europeans outsurvived Africa in the colonial era, and men everywhere have outsurvived women always, today the countries with bigger and more profitable corporations will outsurvive those who have not caught up to technological speed. Underlying this story of human nature, conquest, growth and destruction is the belief that over time humanity has only ever improved its lot over what it had when it first branched off from the rest of the apes. This belief, however, is dead wrong.
While the old story that women are subservient to men because we are physically weak and therefore necessarily reliant on the stronger sex for protection, food and shelter never sat well with me, I could not until recently put into words my objections. If you believe the story that humans have always and forever been a selfishly competitive lot, then the historical use of women as breeding livestock makes perfect sense. So it wasn’t until I read Sex at Dawn that I learned that humans were, in fact, profoundly happy, healthy, lazy and incredibly promiscuous right up until we figured out how to farm and store food. It’s certainly not an expected connection to make, but it was in my efforts to understand human sexuality that I made my first discovery about the reality of our global economy: The damage that we have caused over the last 10,000 years is not the inevitable result of our evolved human selfishness, but instead it is the result of putting humans who were evolved to be carefree and lazy into a world where they had to work and compete with each other for survival.
My own field can be described as behavioral economics. I study “anomalies” of human behavior that have been evolved into our decision making process, but have not adapted to the modern world of global trade, advanced marketing, financial assets and long range economic planning. Because most economists are still very antagonistic towards the use of behavioral theories in their traditional models, much of my effort goes into justifying why I am not studying a world composed of homo economicii (my pluralization of homo economicus, the fictitional human that embodies the economic ideal of decision making). One of the major sub fields of behavioral economics is what is called “other regarding behavior.” In essence, whenever a person chooses an action that benefits other people when they had the opportunity to benefit themselves even more by ignoring those people, we call it other regarding and label it an anomaly. Most people who are not economists are familiar with this type of behavior and use the colloquial terms “having manners,” “showing respect,” “loving,” or “being decent” instead. It really isn’t a foreign concept at all, and yet it is aggressively defended against in areas of public policy and economics.
In the process of researching my dissertation on violence, I came across a lay article on biological taxonomy and evolution. Many animals have physical features that cannot be explained well by the simple application of “survival of the fittest/strongest.” In this case, the article was talking about social versus solitary distinctions. The degree of cooperativeness of a species can be measured very reliably by the amount of white that shows around the colored parts of their eyes. The theory goes that a lone hunter would not want to give away the location of its quarry by allowing another hunter to see where it was looking. On the other hand, animals who act as a group for protection or for hunting would want their clan to know where they were looking in order to better coordinate. Among all mammals, human eyes are the easiest to read, moreso than dogs, wolves or even the great apes, considered most cooperative among mammals. Humans, therefore, can be proved on a sound scientific basis to be profoundly cooperative.
In addition to being strategically cooperative, humans participate in what Professor of Sociology R. Collins calls interaction rituals. By participating in a common and ritualized activity, we synchronize our emotional states with each other. A successful ritual leads to greater cohesion in the group while an unsuccessful ritual leads to feelings of isolation or even existential unease. Broadly defined, even sexual intercourse falls into the category of these interaction rituals. Church, spectators sports, and drum circles are other less ubiquitous examples of the same. By synchronizing our emotions we also synchronize our incentives and are more inclined to act towards the unified interest of our group rather than in an independent selfish direction.
Anthropologically, biologically and psychologically humans are clearly a cooperative species hardwired to care for each other and take group actions to benefit the whole. So why is our world so bloody fucked up? Let’s go back to the Story of Isolation*. Even though the science says one thing, “history” says another. History says that we have always been selfish and single minded, but the problem with relying on the historical record is that it does not include the part that happened before we started keeping track. It does not include the part where we did not have civilization and instead lived in relative, albeit primitive, harmony. In essence, history is a biased data set on the nature of humanity.
Now that I know that the wisdom and common sense that I was brought up on is built on the invalid conclusion that humans are selfish utility maximizers, I can begin to unravel the many layers of “fact” that have clouded my perspective over the years. For example, consider the “fact” that land prices always rise. For those of us who love the unbridled wilderness, we must accept that nature is a scarce resource like oil, gold, and leg room on airplanes. That it gets more expensive every year is the inevitable byproduct of human population growth. Those who are most willing to pay for it are those who will be able to enjoy it, and for those of us who “can’t afford” to buy our own piece of nature we must just accept that the rich obviously appreciate it more than we do. Moreover, not only do the rich and the corporate appreciate the land more than we do, they also put it to better use by ripping it up and consuming its natural resources. For years I thought this was the truth about everything I loved. Sad as it was, I thought it was an unyielding fact about the human condition.
If anything, I think the progression through agriculture, feudalism, colonialism, industrialism and globalism was inevitable, but I don’t think that this is the end of the story for us and I don’t think that the future will follow quite the same course. Instead, what I see as the only sustainable future course for us is one of deep appreciation for the natural world and for each other. Money has proven ultimately inefficient at allocating resources when they are truly scarce. Until now there has always been another continent, another ocean, another oil field… but there are no more places to expand to anymore. Furthermore, we are consuming the earth’s resources at so great a rate that we can no longer afford to make decisions independently of each other. In economics we talk about the Tragedy of the Commons which is the simple premise that if everyone has to share and no one regulates how much each person can use, we will all take too much and cause the collapse of our community. What we are looking at now is a global tragedy which is here because we have repeatedly failed to regulate the use of our shared resource, the planet.
Community will be key in the future to survival on a very very basic level. The tower we have built our civilization on is swaying terribly in high winds and very soon we will have none of the far reaching support we have grown accustomed to. International bananas and avocados, Canadian tomatoes in winter, American beef in Japan, all these things will go away because they will simply become too expensive to continue to consume. Many other luxuries that depend on oil as a material input or for transportation will become very scarce and this is almost everything we consume on a daily basis, right down to the shrink wrap our food comes in. The only viable alternative is one of community resilience. Without the tentacles of a bloated government and commercial system to sustain us from thousands of miles away, we are going to have to make do with what we have available nearby.
This making do is what I call resilience**. It is the ability to live, indeed to thrive, on what is available with what one has on hand. I know now that my calling all this time has been towards personal resilience. Ironically, it is not towards hermithood somewhere far removed from society, but in fact it is towards a strength of spirit and body that will complement the community around me. Because the crises we face are multifaceted and immense each in its own right, the solutions will have to be holistic ones. I believe at this point my body and my spirit are ready. The remaining steps will be to put myself in the right position to act when the storm finally breaks.
Part 2 “Preparation”
*words given to me by Charles Eisenstein.
**words given to me by Chris Martenson.