Friday, May 28, 2010

Sometimes you just gotta vent

Today I found despair. Or perhaps I should say that despair found me, as I can honestly say I don't remember going out to look for this or anything.

I've always know, intellectually, that the project of "living green and saving the world" is in essence a total bullshit job. I know this partially because we've made a cock-up of the whole job of taking care of our planet and I'm dubious it even can recover. And partially because even if it could recover, it would take actual and genuine *gasp* effort on our parts, and probably a willingness to give up most of our God-Given Western Lifestyle, and well, call me crazy, but I'm just not seeing that on the horizon. We'll stop sucking oil & coal down with a straw when it's pried from our cold, dead hands (which, I rather suspect, is exactly what's going to happen). So I know this. Really. I'm not stupid, and I'm not pollyanna. I'm more pessimistic than just about anyone I personally know, and am probably in the running for Most Pessimistic Indiana (I've been barred from the "Doomer of the Year" award, since I've apparently turned pro). I don't think we're all going to die off, but I do think that we're not going to change our behavior until it is way, way too late and we have absolutely no choice left, and that will be the worst possible way to go about it imaginable.

But today I discovered that there is a difference between the simple intellectual knowledge that, really, we're fucked, and the cold, biting, clenching, gnawing despair that comes from actually feeling it. Today I really felt, for the very first time I think, just how totally impossible the project of changing the behavior of Americans will be. And it hurt. Physically. I almost got sick. Rage mixed with confusion just blew up inside me and then, just like a balloon, I totally deflated. I felt completely defeated. I don't remember knowing despair like that. I just sat and cried.

Ironically, perhaps, it was over something comparatively stupid--a triviality really. Certainly not something that will change the world, or even make a significant dent in our problems. It had nothing to do with the oil spill, or stalled climate bills in Congress, or anything that's actually important. Which is why I also feel really dumb having such a strong reaction to it--it was way out of proportion to the situation. But there was jack-all I could do about my reaction.

And no, I'm not giving out any details about the actual event, which is probably really frustrating to you readers, and for that I'm sorry. I've just got to vent, but the simple fact is, the specifics of the situation don't really matter. It could've happened at any time, with just about anyone, so I'm not going to single this event out. B'sides, I suspect that most folks who read this blog have either already had a moment like this, or perhaps will have one soon. When it hits you, right in the gut, just how hair-rippingly hopeless it all is. =(


  1. I hear you.

    My sweetie loves big epic movies where the heroeswin against all odds. It I occasionally hate them, for empathy of the dispair the folks must be feeling in the middle. Or even at the end - you think that because a miracle occurred or the cavalry arrived and you won an impossible battle, you have any chance of winning the war? He points out that it shows the value of fighting, even when you know you are going to lose, because it's the right thing to do,and at least you can die nobly.

    I'd rather plant a garden than die a warrior's death - but theses days, maybe it's the same thing...

  2. Yeah, but ....

    It's kind of like that story of the hummingbird. There's a huge forest fire and all of the larger animals are standing around bemoaning the fact that their environment is being destroyed. They feel helpless and hopeless, like there's nothing they can do. Then, they see this one little hummingbird, who is flying to the river and taking what water he can into his beak and then flying as fast as he can to the fire with his droplet of water. The other animals say to him, "What are you doing? You can only carry just a drop of water, and it's too little. You're too small to do anything. It's hopeless."

    And the hummingbird says, "I'm doing what *I* can."

    That's where I am, and maybe hanging my clothes on the line and planting a garden and raising chickens in my backyard won't make any difference in the greater scheme of things, but *I* am doing what I can, and really, that's what matters most to me - that I lived the best life I could.

    When I hit that wall and start to fall into despair, I just remember that I am the hummingbird ;).

  3. (*Hugs)

    Now that the important step is out of the way, grab a mug of tea while you're at it, make some cookies, and snuggle a kitty or a kid.

    No, what you're doing is not going to save the world. What I'm doing is not going to save the world. But, you are doing it because it's RIGHT. So you can take that two ways: if you're into schadenfreude, you can go "well all those suckers will be in some straits down the line!"; or you can say that you're doing it as it's the best you can, and that your kids will then respect what they have.

    I think that Kathy Harrison over at the Just In Case Book blog has an excellent post on a similar subject:

    I wish you the strength to keep going. :-P

  4. Hello,

    I hope you come through this OK. It sucks I know, I've been there.

    I no longer feel that things are hopeless. Sustaining (westernised) lifestyles at their current levels of luxury are, for sure, not going to happen.

    But life will continue; of that I've no doubt.


  5. Thanks for the honesty in this post. I hope today is a little sunnier and clearer for you. Yes to all the things written above in answer to this post. I cannot count how many times in my life that the small little thing is the one that makes me drop to my knees and often that one little thing is just the final straw. Life is made up of many litle things and they count as well.

    I don't know what the future holds for this world. I sometimes take a lot of notice and sometimes bury my head in the sand for some brief relief. All I know is that I am doing what I do with the knowledge I have at the moment. I gradually change my ways and am constantly trying to learn new things and to understand more deeply. I then try and lead by example. It seems to be the only thing that people take notice of. And do you know what? - you are one of the ones I have taken notice of while you have been leading by example.



  6. I've been feeling like this lately. I cycle in and out of despair every few months it seems and at the moment I just can't seem to snap out of it. Usually getting out in the garden helps, but I think this latest funk is going to require something extra special to pull me out. It helps to know others are feeling the same way. I think seeing life go on like 'normal' for everyone is disconcerting when you know what's really going on in the world.

  7. I'm still in the grappling-intellectually stage of things, and I don't look forward to actually letting into my heart the realization of what we're losing - and what we've taken from our descendants. Nobody wants to live with a broken heart, and so I stave it off. But sooner or later, denial takes its own toll, and life has to be lived genuinely. Peace.

  8. If you want to despair, read the comments underneath any yahoo news story related to energy or the environment.

    The world passed into idiocracy as while ago and it doesn't seem to matter how bad things get. People still cling to idiotic ideas.