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Three Lists: What has been lost, what has been given, and what has been saved
Dan Allen, Resilience.org

I.

There is a list.

A terrible and shameful list.

A list that will break your damn heart in half if you have the courage to look at it.

A list that will sap your strength.

It is a list so numbingly large

That nobody knows more than a tiny fraction of it.

A list that just keeps on growing.

Faster and faster and faster and faster.

So fast that nobody could ever keep up.

— It is a list of things that have been lost.

Of things that have been broken, burnt, wasted, ruined, disappeared.

Of things abused, eroded, corrupted, forgotten, sacrificed, discarded.

Of things disfigured, suffocated, poisoned, fucked up, shattered, and killed.

Things lost,

Lost by a culture that would not acknowledge limits,

That would not acknowledge debts, dependencies, or connections.

A thankless culture.

A culture that arrogantly and violently refused to see, hear, feel, touch, or taste

The world that gave birth to it just yesterday.

— It is a list that will sap your strength.

— It is a list that will break your damn heart.

II.

But there is also a second list.

A breathtakingly beautiful list.

A list that will heal your heart if you have the sense to look at it.

It is a list that has been getting smaller, smaller, smaller every year.

But a list still so gloriously large

That nobody knows more than a tiny fraction of it.

— It is a list of things that have been given.

Of things that grow, run, swim, eat, blow, wiggle, rustle, clack, flow, slide, and laugh.

Of things that fly, cuddle, fight, howl, slither, hunt, hide, drift, ooze, sleep, and love.

Of things that are strong, deep, soft, tiny, smooth, hot, playful, slow, and hungry.

Of things that are green, brown, blue, thorny, large, dry, cold, fragile, wet, and fast.

Things given,

Given now to us, free

By a world that only asks us to see, hear, feel, touch, and taste them.

By a world that only asks us to take membership among that list.

A world that gave birth to us all, before time began.

— It is a list that will heal your heart.

III.

And there is a third list.

A much smaller list,

But a list that will give you strength if you have the wisdom

To look for it, to find it, to learn it, to live it.

It is a list dangerously small

Because so much has been forgotten.

And because nobody anymore knows more than a tiny fraction of it.

And it is a list that is still shrinking.

Faster and faster and faster.

Until it is almost gone.

But it is not gone.

— It is a list of things that have been saved.

Of things that have been mended, nurtured, passed down, remembered

Of things taken care of, tended, loved, watched over

Of ways of talking, ways of knowing, ways of seeing, ways of feeling, and ways of loving

Of customs, rituals, practices, seeds, breeds, tools, skills, and prayers.

Things saved.

It is a list that teaches us how to belong to this world.

A list that teaches us how to live in this world without destroying it.

A list that teaches us how to live with each other without destroying ourselves.

Passed down from cultures that celebrated limits, that worshipped them.

Thankful cultures.

Cultures that awoke each morning to see, hear, feel, touch, or taste

The world that gave birth to them.

A world that is now slipping away from us.

A world that will slip away from us if we don’t hold onto it

With all the strength we can summon

In our hearts, in our minds, and in our bodies.

It is a list that will give you this strength.

IV.

So in this time of catastrophe,

Perhaps we should turn to these lists.

And teach our children from them.

So that we may live.

(25 January 2013)

 

Finding Renewal In Times Of Loss: Carolyn Baker Reviews “Why The World Doesn’t End” By Michael Meade
Carolyn Baker, Speaking Truth to Power
Michael Meade is a storyteller, author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. Deeply influenced by the works of Carl Jung, Mircea Eliade, Edith Hamilton, James Hillman, Malidoma Somé, and Joseph Campbell, he views our world through a lens of myth, symbolism, and the inextricable connection between nature and culture. Meade’s passion for making meaning and making sense of humanity’s predicament in a dark time reverberates throughout Why The World Doesn’t End: Finding Renewal In A Time Of Loss, as well as his other books such as The World Behind The World (2008) and Fate And Destiny (2010).

As an avid reader of Meade, it is nearly impossible for me to characterize his writing and storytelling in just one word, but if forced to do so, I would have to say “paradox.” His work is replete with paradox and the capacity to hold the tension of opposites in order to facilitate a third option and thereby birth authentic transformation. For example, “finding renewal in a time of loss,” or “a light inside dark times” or “the ends of time, the roots of eternity,” to name a few of his book and CD titles.

In a time of decline, demise, unraveling and what is very likely to be the collapse of industrial civilization and the paradigm on which it rests, it is crucial, in my opinion, to grasp and nourish the opposite of descent by attending to all that may facilitate an ascent to a rebirth of humanity. Descent, in fact, is only one half of the story of civilization that is now playing out its last act. From the ashes of that collapsed paradigm, another will emerge, and our work in current time is to forge a framework with which it can be constructed—a skeleton of sanity, sagacity, creativity, compassion, and vision to be enfleshed on the bare bones of what we modestly call “preparation,” knowing that today’s preparation is tomorrow’s next culture.

The decline of civilization is occurring in the context of an obsession with all things new, innovative, and ostensibly original. Yet increasingly we are discovering that ancient, indigenous wisdom sustained other, more mature civilizations for longer periods of time, and many individuals and communities are avidly reclaiming and employing the myths of our ancestors in order to make sense of our predicament. Michael Meade is such an individual whose work encompasses not only the realm of storytelling and writing but in-depth mentoring programs for at-risk youth and powerful healing retreats for returning combat veterans and their families.

New and old? Endings and beginnings? Of this Meade writes:

"Ends and beginnings may be polar opposites, but like most opposed things, they are secretly connected. Part of the revelation of the end-times is that things do not actually end altogether. In the great drama of the world, the end leads bck to the beginning and, from what went before, things begin again."…

(4 January 2013)


Staring at the Sea

Jason Heppenstall, 22 Billion Energy Slaves blog
I announced recently on the pages of this blog that I would shortly be leaving Denmark with my family and moving back to the UK, where I am from. This decision was a long time in the making and the past couple of years of agonizing could be neatly summarized by The Clash song ‘Should I stay or should I go?’

In the end, of course, we chose to go back to England, where at least one of us is from (my wife is from Denmark and our two young daughters were born here). Without wishing to be too reductionist about this decision, I took into consideration all the factors that I think will be defining in an era of depleting net energy and social unrest that I think we are now entering into. When all was said and done, however, I had to go with my heart and what common sense told me. It’s long been a hunch of mine that one of the most important things about positioning yourself in preparation for the great Stopping of the Music is to make sure you will be somewhere where your face fits in and the people who surround you share the same cultural values. So, no moving to Outer Mongolia or darkest Peru for this WASP.

Perhaps the most agonizing aspect of this decision was the fact that land and farmhouses in Denmark are dirt cheap compared with Britain. I had fallen in love with the island of Møn, an idyllic island in the south of Denmark, covered in ancient Neolithic tombs, and populated by small villages filled with the kind of chocolate box thatched cottages you see on postcards. Here one could buy a 200 year old farmhouse in excellent condition with six or seven bedrooms plus outhouses, a couple of acres of land and probably an orchard or two along with some woodland and still have change from £150,000 (or $235,000). The same property in the UK, where the bubble is still rampant, would set you back up to a million pounds – around six or seven times the price in Denmark.

But, tempting as this was, when we really considered all the factors, the UK seemed like the better option FOR US.

So, without further ado, these were the factors that were taken into consideration in deciding which side of the North Sea to live on. It goes without saying that these are not the ONLY factors – but these were the ones that stuck out in my mind the most.

1. Energy…
2. Transportation…
3. Food Security…
4. Governance and Society…
5. Finance and Economics…
6. Climate Change…
7. Housing…
8. Trade links…
9. Geopolitics…
10. Population and carrying capacity…
11. Preparedness/resilience…

(24 January 2013)