And other lost causes.
When I visit social media, I never know exactly what I’ll see, but I know what to expect. When I’m lucky, a rare glimmer of something distracting or heartwarming sometimes slips into the mix, but a cavalcade of horrors is always reliably on tap. My mood of the moment often colours my response. A new attack on civil rights/the environment/basic decency might leave me furious or motivated or depressed or resigned, depending on my preexisting mental state when it arrives in my feed. The stimulus is the same, but where it finds me changes the experience.
To cope with the impact on my psyche, I seek time in nature. In contrast, the profound immensity of nature always reaches me the same way. Whether a forest or a waterfall or any wild creature, large or small, nature consistently invokes my sense of wonder, an expectant and attentive inner peace. The litany of concerns and anxieties about our self-shredding culture yammering away in my head recede, and I can be present to the moment. In the endlessly fascinating woods of my childhood, nature became my first love.
Remembering and hating the way that we’re killing it comes later, when I’m not basking in its presence. When I’m immersed in nature, it just is. It speaks to me. I can just be.
I’ve dedicated the last quarter century to trying to protect or preserve it, or at least a little bit of it. I’ve volunteered and worked for various ecological organizations, organized environmental campaigns, written everything from lectures to music to live theatre that sought to inspire people to care and to act. I try to make complex science accessible with playful comics. If I could somehow die in a world that had more wolves in it than the one I was born in, I’d feel those many thousands of hours were utterly worth it. It’s been the central preoccupation of my entire adult life.
All doomed to failure, of course. The writing’s on the wall for the climate we grew up in. As science offers us its direst last warnings, governments double down on building new oil pipelines and approving more fossil fuel development, condemning the globe to an unthinkable hellscape. I try not to speak in full throttle apocalyptic terms too often, knowing that it demotivates people, but when Pollyannas tell us we’re about to finally…