“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“We are healed of a suffering only by experiencing it to the full.”
~ Marcel Proust
Life offers plenty of opportunities to be wounded: from the utter feeling of being an outcast, never belonging but always longing, to more “real” things such as mental or physical illness, civil wars, coup d’états, wars, earthquakes, you get the idea…
But the wound I want to talk about today is of a different nature: it is the wound that allows you to fully understand…or being as close as you can to understand. The ultimate wound.
In 2011 and after tripping over many crossroads, experiments and mistakes, I had what seemed as a random talk with my oldest son. That talk and what came after, opened my eyes and mind to Peak Oil, then Climate Change and peak resources. It allowed me to be strong enough to make “crazy” things for a woman my age and condition, such as taking a Permaculture course and suddenly embracing things I had “forgotten” such as making bread, canning and gardening to grow food in a more intentional way.
It changed the dynamics and relationship I had with my work, studies and the volunteering I had been doing: I slowly abandoned my volunteering with refugee causes and embraced disaster management and first aid as opportunities not only for learning and certification, but for creating real community resilience.
So many things happened that I sometimes lost count of all the changes and the amazing people I met thanks to this “realizations”…but what is more important for me is to keep these wounds open and alive: I do not want them to heal!
Let me explain further…
Since that chat in 2011, I have been “wounded” a few times: every time, the wound is deeper and scarier, but opens up extraordinary doors, it makes the feeling addictive, because what I can see and access through these wounds is beyond words and makes me more “human”.
The first wound was the realization that this “reality” some of us have and have accepted as “normal” is all a construct, a giant castle in the air sustained upon the short-term, finite availability of cheap and easy to get fossil fuels: all this life, the cars, the cell phones, Internet, TVs, flights and vacations, running and clean water, cheap food from overseas, new clothes every year, “health” and life expectancy, all is built upon the fantasy that these resources and technologies will last forever and may even become better and accessible to all…”knowing” all this is already shocking enough (more than knowing is a matter of connecting the dots and looking beyond the basic connections)…but even more shocking is “feeling” it: understanding the implications for us in our old age, for our children and the children of our friends and those we don’t know; the implications for the sick, the poor, the disable and the injured.
The sudden realization that we are just too many and that even our presence in this world may be the result of this overshoot: that without fossil fuels, the “green revolution” in agriculture and all the technology and discoveries around health, we and many of those we love so dearly may not be around us, may not be here. We could not have existed.
That wound allowed me to dig into the “preppers” world deep enough to understand how selfish and short-sighted that vision is: you can live in a bunker and hoard tons of seeds, water, food, tools and the like, but you’ll eventually run out of stuff. And hoarders don’t have a good chance when others in the community discover you have been accumulating all what they need and are not willing to share.
I quickly learned that many preppers are nothing but the extension of a type of American thinking: the difference was they switched from “buying at the mall” for entertainment to “buying at the mall” for survival: it is still short sighted and selfish, addictive consumerism that allow people to avoid thinking and feeling in the causes and consequences of our predicaments and the extent of our own responsibility towards them.
Prepper’s thinking goes: If I can afford having a root cellar full of potatoes, water for a year and a generator, I don’t need to think much about how humanity came to the point where 1 out of 9 people don’t have access to clean water and 2/3 of the planet don’t have access to adequate sanitation; 1 out of 7 are chronically malnourished or hungry and so many others have challenges to access safe and nutritious food and water…I don’t have to think about the consequences of my acts on others, my children or their children or what’s happening to nature and its systems: I only need to preoccupy my mind with hoarding survival stuff and how I’ll go around “protecting” myself and my family when TSHTF.
I also learned good things (or, fair to say, re-learned in my case): from living simpler to making most of the things we need: as I don’t have a lot of money to “buy survival stuff” I focused in acquiring skills…
Going through all that teaches you a lot about others and about yourself: who you are and who you are not: I am not a hoarder and I tend to think long term, systems-like and connections: I tend to think consequences, responsibilities and community. I cannot stand the thought of “ammo” and what’s for: as Richard Heinberg wrote in one of his books: I don’t want to live in a world where the only option for survival is to kill others.
The second wound came when in my exploration, I realized that Peak Oil was not the issue at all: Climate Change and peak resources where way more important and game changers than any decline in the availability or production of oil, carbon and the like: while “Peak Oil” would force us to live simpler and find out different ways to do things, re-learn skills we have forgotten and give up on so many fantasies we have come to take for granted, the overall outcome may even be positive: learning to live within limits and in a different relationship with the Earth, accepting things we don’t want to accept but that are part of life, such as boredom, illness, simplicity, slowing down and even death.
Climate Change and peak resources, on the other hand, are real gamer changers: they may lead other species (and even us) to extinction…even if not to extinction, to a drastic reduction of souls in this world by means we don’t want to face: resource wars (sounds familiar?), hunger, civil unrest, forced migration, epidemics and “natural” disasters…
The second wound showed me something really difficult to swallow: we may survive (albeit through spread suffering and losses) Peak Oil…we may not survive Climate Change and peak resources…
It may sound strange what I’m going to say: I miss these wounds…
Humans are not “made” to carry emotional burdens for too long. We switch (faster or slower) to “doing”: we need to cook, eat, work, pay the bills, prepare workshops and learn skills. Wounds such as these pass to a second level behind our minds: the adrenaline they bring to us with their realization, that “surge” or “hype” that makes us to dig deeper, seek for like-minded people, learn new things and try to “respond” slowly dissipates and becomes harder and harder to get.
But…I’ve met others who manage to have these wounds open and are constantly seeking and talking about them. They embrace the truth no matter how dramatic or painful, they live with the wound and cannot walk back to a “normal life”.
For those of us who move around these two dimensions, there is a third wound: the wound of needing to stay “normal” and sane in a world deeply doped, a world that demands we focus on things we no longer care or things we know are short-sighted…it is like knowing the ship is sinking but being required to paint the rooms of pink. All common sense is lost. We feel this as a betrayal.
I cross this road all the time: I seek this, I need this. When I’m at the other side, I find real people, people with real souls and hearts who may be wounded and scared but are also deeply compassionate and warm. The calling is too strong sometimes: “stay with us, cross the line, forget the mainstream side”…
There is so much at stake that I don’t distinguish if my staying here respond to a need (I need to stay connected, I need to continue this slow awareness work, this work of hope and resilience as so many more cross the line and discover the wounds) or to my own fears (there is much at stake in both sides).
“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realization of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself; the path is not ready-made, lying there and waiting for you. It is just like the sky: the birds fly, but they don’t leave any footprints. You cannot follow them; there are no footprints left behind.”