For almost a year now I have been able to move into optimism as needed. Optimism similar to Joanna Macy’s Active Hope. But my stance, to this point, has been:
“I’m paying attention and I’m ready. Along with all of the bad things that are already clearly evident in our messed up biosphere, and the more bad things on their way, there are good things and there will be new opportunities for new good things. I’m ready, like the rear paddler in a canoe going through the rapids. I’m looking for the best path. At the ready for split second decisions, ready to exert maximum effort to steer our craft around approaching obstacles.”
This has not been an optimism that says “I’m sure we’ll make it through.” Or “I know what we need to do.”
But slowly, over the shortest days, I’ve seen glimmers of the way forward. I’ve been able to reorient from “Transition” to “Transformation.” Not that I know how to be clear about this yet. Not that I can say “There! Do you hear that?! I think that’s Gaia calling! Calling us, the biosphere, toward a new wholeness!”
With today’s On Being program, one of the glimmers I have been sensing has opened up into a shine, a slender shaft, offering a sense of direction I have not had before.
The 50-minute program is The Intelligence in All Kinds of Life. The woman Krista Tippett interviews is Robin Wall Kimmerer, who is a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, and also a loyal member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation and a student of its traditional ways. These two ways of recognizing the natural world come together in her special focus on moss, and her panoramic view of where we are, at this turning point of life on Earth. She is insightful on some of the ways we are stuck, and how we may be able to find our way forward. She touches on many wonderful things, including personal pronouns we might use to refer to nature, instead of our depersonalizing “it.”
In her videos, like “What does Earth ask of us?” she speaks out of Anishinabe wisdom, pointing in the direction of a right relationship with Gaia, Mother Earth.
This is not a shining path showing the way forward, to my eyes. But she easily speaks to my raised-in-the-world-of-Science sensibility, and she offers a way forward. One I have heard before, but not been able to understand at all. Until now.