“As both a mythologist and wilderness rites-of-passage guide I am frequently asked to comment on climate change, collapsing stories, and what on earth to say to our kids about the future. I am no kind of pundit, so choose my words sparingly and carefully. What follows is a few thoughts.
“I think we are in the Underworld and haven’t figured it out yet. Both inside and outside us.
“The Underworld is a place where we admit our red right hand. We give up the apotropaic.
“….Dancing on the very same spear tip, we accept our very human response to things ending. We don’t like it. We loathe it. The good stuff at least. Though it is a historical inevitability, a biological place-holder, could we start to explore the thought that earth may appropriately proceed without us? Without our frantically curated shape? Could our footprints become pollen that swirl up for a moment and then are gone? I’m not suggesting we are anything but pulverised with sorrow with the realisation, and our part in its hastening, but I persist.
“I’m offering no spiritual platitudes, no lofty overview, but for once we stop our wrestle with god and feel deeply into the wreckage of appropriate endings.
“That even, or especially such catastrophic loss requires the most exquisite display for the love we did not know how deeply we loved till we knew it was leaving.
“I think even to operate for a second in the Underworld without being annihilated we have to operate from both wonder and grief, at absolutely the same time. One does not cancel the other out, it is the very tension of the love-tangle that makes us, possibly, a true human being.
“Notice I said approaching, not accepting the truth that things end. That’s too swift a move, too fraudulent, too counterfeit, too plastic. Approaching is devastation enough.
“This terrible, noble counterweight is what we are getting taught. But it doesn’t end there.
“There in that very contrariness something gets forged: something that is neither-this-nor-that, a deepening, the blue feather in the magpie’s tale, the Hermian move to excruciating brilliance through the torment of paradox, the leap of dark consciousness that we, in the name of culture, are being asked to make. The thunderbolt that simultaneously destroys and creates.”
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