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Wildfire In Sechelt 2015

Burning Down the House

Relaxing with the present moment, relaxing with hopelessness, relaxing with death, not resisting the fact that things end, that things pass, that things have no lasting substance, that everything is changing all the time—that is the basic message.

Pema Chödrön

In 2015 I experienced my first significant wildfire season while living in coastal British Columbia. The shock, anxiety, horror, and overwhelming feelings of claustrophobia were deeply visceral and very real. Attempting to move through my everyday existence in a yellowed, ash-covered reality was disorienting and had a surreal quality to it. Burning eyes and breathing challenges were a daily occurrence. My heart ached for the birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, trees, plants, and forests that were destroyed through it all. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. 

The following years were no better. Every year wildfire smoke would inexorably engulf the skies and revive those deep feelings of grief, claustrophobia and anxiety once again. I realized then that collapse was no longer a future certainty, it was already well underway and no amount of denial, delusion or blind optimism could stop it.

For many, the “Pollyanna effect” is an important coping mechanism. Perpetual optimism, or “brightsideitis” in the midst of “in-your-face” breakdown is a most pervasive form of denial. No matter how intoxicating self-delusion is, however, reality always wins in the end. A simple law of consciousness states that our outer world will always reflect our inner world. Living from a mindset of self-superiority and separation from life does not make for a pretty reflection. Multiply that mindset by 8 billion members of a deluded species, and a potent critical mass with immense capacity for immanent extinction is very much alive.

One of the many reasons I moved back to Ontario in 2018 was to escape the heartache of the incontrovertible evidence of abrupt climate collapse out west. Between the wildfires, droughts, dying ocean, aggressive windstorms, atmospheric rivers, rapacious logging, mining and clearcuts, etc., my heart could no longer take it. I knew it was time to be closer to the people I love most: my sisters and friends with deep roots in a rich history of connection. I’ve not regretted for one moment the choice to move back. The decision to return home became even more important this year after the heartless ending of my long-term relationship followed by a global pandemic narrative that seemingly never ends. Bottom line: I’m grateful to be home.

Despite now living on the other side of the continent, I continue to feel a profound ache in my heart for the people I love, and for the flora and fauna who are living through, and dying from, the increasingly aggressive wildfires raging out west this year. I may not be experiencing the horror first-hand anymore, but I know it well. It’s deeply lodged in my body as a visceral memory I will never forget. I feel both helpless and horrified.

Without the distraction of a relational partner anymore, I’m able to feel more fully into what is real for me. There is nobody to “cheer me up” because of their discomfort with my prescient truth. Alone in my self-created sanctuary surrounded by the beauty of nature and animals, I still cannot shake the underlying feelings of grief in my body. Even the beautiful moments of deep connection are tinged with poignancy and a sense of their impermanence.  

Things are feeling weirder by the day. Increasingly, I’m feeling worn down by the “pandemic” narrative and the ridiculous behaviour emerging from it all. There are days when I’m debilitated with near-paralyzing grief for what we’ve become and I just don’t want to be around people at all anymore. In so many ways everything feels surreal, strange and foreboding. The images we are being shown of places we have lived and loved, watching it all go up in flames, knowing the multitudes of animals dying horrifying deaths, and the hundreds of millions of acres of forests and ancient trees, burnt to a crisp. The devastation of huge swaths of the planet that will never be the same and having to face into that is only the beginning of our woes. Charlatans in charge of the governments worldwide, each one worse than the next. There is no escape for a sensitive heart and an aware mind anymore. Not meditation. Not nature. Nothing. Perhaps that is exactly how it’s meant to be: fully present in the anguish and horror of it all.

Convergence

We are now living in a moment in which planetary horrors converge acutely with the horrors of social unrest, pandemic polarization and so much more. It is a moment that feels dark to many of us and is uncertain for all of us. The prevalence of fear as the driver of everyday existence has exposed much of the deeper ugliness that has long been buried within us. We are in the midst of a whole systems crisis. Our mental and emotional crisis, pandemic crisis, social justice crisis, economic crisis, and planetary crisis all stem from the same toxic root: a spiritual crisis that has severed our connection to life.

We are living in a threadbare civilization that is disintegrating before our eyes. And yet we hang on for dear life, utterly terrified to let it go. This terror is unleashing a darkness that has cast an ominous shadow of anxiety that spans the entire globe.

There have been many famines, pandemics and wars throughout human history, not to mention systemic slavery and subjugation of women, children and animals. While we do have immense capacity for compassion and empathy, it seems virtually impossible to sustain this as a natural way of being. If we did have the capacity for sustained compassion and empathy we would not be requesting the annual slaughter of billions of farmed animals and trillions of fished creatures for our mindless, gluttonous consumption. For countless decades, this unfathomable brutality has been “just the way it is”. We seem to be hardwired for rationalized dissonance. Overall, we are not a particularly pleasant species. Our history is one of aggression, destruction and brutality that really never changes. We may have more complex technology these days and perhaps that makes us appear less brutish, but the reality is one of inertia.

With one crisis unfolding after another and each one transpiring during an ongoing pandemic, and with the more frequent and horrifying effects of biosphere collapse presenting around the globe, it makes perfect sense that so many feel weary, frequently outraged, and often despairing.

As my dear friend, Catherine Ingram shared in a recent post (and I concur):

“There are those who think we are in a crisis, one from which we will emergesoon or at least eventually. This is not the crisis. This is not even a preview of the crisis. This is a respite, a last gasp for the earth’s creatures to experience the world without our frenzied stoking of the death machine. It is similar to the way a dying person might have a final burst of energy that belies the nearness of death. It might be so powerful an assertion of life that they and all those around them assume that they are healed. “It’s a miracle!” their loved ones exclaim.  But no, it is the dying embers  of a constellation of dancing molecules, the last flare of the brightness of being. The fanciful talk of “messages from the virus,” the chance for our world to reset its priorities, the obvious inspiration of this long pause to change our ways is akin to praying to false gods. Not only are the false gods not listening; they don’t exist. We are in the beginning of rapid planetary change that portends economic collapse, climactic chaos, starvation, social unrest, and war. Make your peace in whatever ways you can. Love the days you have and everyone and everything that has ever lifted your heart.  Get ready.”

Anger, Despair and Hate

Many people are stuck in a pit of anger, hate and/or despair these days. I get it. We are living in an aggressive, oppressive and uncertain reality. I also recognize the toxicity of these feelings and how harmful they are both personally and collectively. While I pay little attention to the news or politics, I am keenly aware of the extreme polarization playing out in the United States. The seething hatred toward Trump and his supporters, and vice versa is felt by all. The ripple effect of this dark energy cannot be negated anywhere in the world.

Hate is hate, however. It matters not how it is justified or which side of the fence it comes from. The way I see it, hating Trump (and his supporters) only feeds the consciousness of hate. It does nothing to promote the consciousness of unity and compassion. Quite the opposite, in fact. That doesn’t mean we have to be all “love and light” with everyone as the new age magical thinkers would have us believe. Heaven knows, I’m certainly not even close to that. But I also choose, to the best of my ability as a fallible human, to not invest my energy in negative projection. I’d rather remain neutral and allow the forces of nature to play out on their own. I trust that. Inevitably our choices and actions always catch up to us in the end anyway. I’ve seen that repeatedly in my own life, and I trust that as a global truth.

Unfortunately many people these days are so engrossed in their hatred of Trump that they are incapable of moving beyond it. They cannot see that this seething hatred is only filling the world with more hate. Something similar is occurring with the global COVID narrative that continues to plague us all. While the avatar of Trump is polarizing Americans with hate, the avatar of COVID is polarizing humanity with fear.

Fear is a most potent consciousness suppressant. It dumbs us down and inspires an infantile consciousness that accentuates our already prominent separateness. The virus story has gone viral and has infected the global mind. This is not about masks/no masks, vaccine/anti vaccine, sanitize/not sanitize, distance/proximity, isolate/socialize; this is about something much bigger: the power of belief and how it impacts human consciousness.

The consciousness of fear has distracted us so profoundly that it has entirely redirected our focus toward trivialities when compared to the breakdown of the natural systems that sustain life. Our biosphere is collapsing before our eyes, and yet we’ve blinded ourselves to the obvious by committing ourselves to a global “pandemic” narrative that pales in comparison. There is no vaccine to remedy that.

2020 is proving to be a year for clear vision, showing us with great clarity (should we have the courage to look, that is), how absolutely everything about life on planet Earth is in a state of collapse, including our own humanity. In every way imaginable, we are burning down the house, adeptly architecting our own demise.

In believing the foundational story of suffering and death, COVID has polarized us with more fear and distrust of each other, more anxiety and substance abuse, more mental and emotional distress, more child, animal and domestic abuse, and more environmental damage to name but a few of the bigger issues spawned from the pandemic narrative. Depending on what we choose to believe in these confusing and uncertain times, the reality we are now living in is bringing out the worst in many and the best in a few.

Story Crisis

We are living in a global reality that is in the midst of an intense story crisis that has activated the reptilian brain in a sustained manner. The result is a global collective living from the roots of fight or flight. At a deep level, our primal fear of survival has been activated by the COVID narrative. The prevailing status quo of “covidites” believe the entirety of the story with few, if any questions. Flight, in the form of compliance, is their mode of operating within this questionable narrative. Because the COVID story is liberally peppered with “science” (real or otherwise), there is no will or desire to question it. Science, in their minds, is god. God is never to be questioned. Covidites tend to be easily offended by any belief that challenges the narrative they are so deeply wedded to. Their instant response to opposing beliefs is to authoritatively parrot the “science” they have been spoon fed through one of the many overwhelming avenues of media.

On the other side of the story equation are the “conspiracy” theorists. Those who challenge the narrative, often to an extreme. Fight, in the form of resistance and defiance is their mode of operating within this toxic narrative. Conspiracy theorists are often unwilling to entertain any potential truth that may be revealed through mainstream sources of information. They are deeply immersed in the belief that someone or something (or both) is out to get them.

In choosing either the status quo of this global narrative, or its opposite, every life choice is filtered through that narrow lens. Covidites are profoundly co-dependent on the word of the day from the scientific and political “authorities” who author this increasingly oppressive saga. Conspiracy theorists, on the other hand, seem to become angrier and more defiant by the day. Fear is a powerful influencer for a mind that is separated from the intuitive heart. In fact, a fearful mind is the intuitive heart’s greatest adversary. There is no capacity for critical thought when wedded to a singular story. We are a species that has been well conditioned to give our internal power away by looking outside of ourselves for “truth”. With that, we’ve become hard-wired for stasis.

Despite so many obvious opportunities to wake up this year, we remain asleep at the wheel. We continue to look for safety and comfort that cannot be found, especially in our rapidly crumbling reality. These are emotionally intense times and when people are unconscious to what is moving through them, it creates fertile ground for the polarizing energies we are experiencing throughout the world right now. While most of the focus is on COVID, Trump, or other political issues, there is so much more at play that is far more concerning. We are witnessing extreme division in society as people attach themselves to what they want to believe, or what they do believe to be “true” about life. In the confusion and terror of the times we are now living in, people are desperately clinging to life rafts that no longer exist.

The problems of today are plentiful. They are less about Donald Trump than they are about those who support him. He is merely an avatar for a toxic consciousness that has infected the world. With the fracture of separation that the pandemic has deepened within our species, COVID has become one more thread binding us to that same toxic consciousness. The way I see it, Trump, COVID, social unrest, economic ruin, the race toward global fascism, biosphere collapse, and so on, are all the same. They are external reflections of our inner separation consciousness.

Beyond the Story…

More and more, I’m meeting like-minded people who are choosing to look beyond the story at a more holistic picture. They are choosing neither fight nor flight. Because their reptilian brain is not activated, there is no fear and critical thought is readily available. These are the rare few who are tapped into their intuition and deeply connected to the wisdom of their bodies. They trust their gut and can clearly see the glaring holes in the dominant narrative while also recognizing that a new virus is seemingly present. Rather than engage with the prevailing narrative or defy it, they choose instead to quietly continue living as naturally as possible within an increasingly unnatural global reality. This often means becoming deeply intimate with solitude.

Regardless of where we stand within the story or outside of the story, this is becoming an increasingly challenging world to live in. The more we can let go and accept the direction we have collectively chosen, the better off we will be in making forward thinking decisions about life. When we examine the chrysalis of our anxiety and grief, we find the seeds of our peace and joy. In this discovery we become more present with our essential nature and less focused on the turbulence of the world. Our core essential nature has no fear. It is fear-less because it knows that safety exists within. It is not attached to anything because it knows the impermanence of everything. Perhaps this sense of being is what we’ve been missing all along. The times we are living in are proving to be an open invitation for us to step more fully into this place within.

As I wind down this lengthy post, night has fallen and the sky is gorgeous and clear. I will go outside and lose myself in truth because nature never lies. Every time I look up at the stars everything feels just fine and I’m reminded of the only thing that matters: right now.

******

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