it was the news that the Amazon rain forest is burning that put me over the top. Until then, I was aware of feeling low grade, back-of-the-mind grief about what we humans have done to the planet. When I heard that, through greed and carelessness, we were losing our planetary lungs, my discomfort blossomed into despair.
I grew up wandering the woods of Western Wisconsin. I found a kindred spirit in the writing and sensibilities of John Muir (also Wisconsin-born).
“The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness,” he wrote. Surrounded by trees and cradled in birdsong, I felt whole and at home.
I was nine years old for the first Earth Day. My Brownie troop and I painted trash cans and placed them around our small town to discourage litter. I thought the tide had turned. In my nine-year-old mind, it was obvious that humans couldn’t continue to trash the planet, would realize it, and would mend their ways.
Unfortunately, maddeningly, that hasn’t happened and now we are on the verge of climate collapse.
When I bring awareness to my body, I feel heaviness in my torso, an ache in my chest, prickling behind by eyes and feelings of sadness, anger, and hopelessness.
It is only somewhat comforting to discover that I am not alone in my distress. Counselors are seeing an increasing number of people experiencing. “climate grief” and other forms of emotional disturbance related to climate change.
The mental health professionals recommend that we share our feelings with others and take what action we can to help the planet.
I reviewed my energy, transportation, and household habits, looking for ways I can live more gently and sustainably on the earth. I signed up for the 30 Day Sustainability Challenge.
I researched groups who are working to restore habitats, transform our energy use and change policies. Just reading about environmental activism helped lift some of the weight I feel. I added the digital #ClimateStrike banner to my blog and recruited my husband to plant a tree at a One Tree Planted event.
“The battle for conservation will go on endlessly,” Jon Muir wrote. “It is part of the universal battle between right and wrong.”
I stand with the trees.