“I’ve learned that home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.”
It’s been a whirlwind eight months since my last post, and until recently I’ve felt little desire to share my musings. To be perfectly honest, I have little left to say since baring it all in, Beyond Hope. My focus instead, has been living my words through the ongoing mastery of presence and grace. Suffice it to say, I’m still a work in progress. Because of ongoing email prompts from people curious about my thoughts on a planet burning out of control, the incentive to share has finally presented itself. Although I have little left to say about the profusion of crises unfolding on the planet, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Earth is in a state of aggressive evolution.
In tandem with Earth’s accelerating evolution, has been my own. For the past eight months, this evolutionary journey has led me on a search for “home” on a planet that feels increasingly hostile. The pernicious influence of humanity has created exponential change on a global scale, and the outcome is predictable: a planet being rapidly rendered uninhabitable. Needless to say, what used to define “home” for me no longer does, in a world, and on a planet I no longer recognize.
My life has always been one of reverence for animals and the natural world. As such, my need for time in nature rivals only my need for breath. Because I’m so deeply connected to Earth, I’m also deeply connected to Earth changes. I can say, with no trace of reservation, that the changes—particularly in the last three years—are extreme. I share this from first-hand experience. From coast to coast, forests that once teemed with life, are virtually silent. Trees and plant life are brittle, dry and frail in appearance. Beaches that once provided a sense of calm, are littered with rubbish and detritus as far as the eye can see. Rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans that were once healing grounds for tranquility, now suffocate in plastic, sewage, pesticides, oil slicks, heavy metals, and god knows what else. Meadows and fields once soothing for contemplation, naps, and cloud watching, are infested with disease-carrying ticks, poison ivy, giant hogweed, wild parsnip, and aggressive, sleepless mosquitoes.
I used to look forward to summer with excitement. The warmer, sunnier days meant greater opportunities to be outside camping, swimming, cycling, hiking, canoeing, and just plain old, being. But the oppressive heat and stifling humidity of recent summers has made physical exertion so effortful and agitating that I now look at summer with dread. Winters are longer, icier, and feel uncomfortably damp. Spring blends into summer, while autumn has merged with winter. The four seasons I once knew, are no more. It’s either too hot or too cold. Essentially I’m now living on a planet with two extreme, intolerable seasons.
For the average person—the majority collective—it becomes much easier to ignore or deny these changes when confined to their cities and the climate-controlled environments of offices, shops, cars, homes or apartments; distracted by offspring, work, and the pitiful virtual world that now defines the human experience. In my life, I’ve chosen to be fully present to Earth changes, however, and this makes the big picture exponentially bigger. The quality of outdoor time I once knew is severely compromised, and it’s quickly becoming a sickening experience: physically, mentally, emotionally, and even spiritually.
I confess to finding some dark amusement in the proliferation of “invasive species” and parasites such as wild parsnip, giant hogweed, poison ivy and ticks—especially ticks. Whether we like it or not, Earth will always reflect back to us the outcome of our collective choices. We’ve not chosen wisely. The infiltration of ticks in northern climates such as Canada is a powerful metaphor reflecting back to us exactly what we have become. Like humans, ticks are resilient, prolific breeders that voraciously consume with no concern for the host. Ironically, the profusion of ticks also parallels the profusion of humans. While parasites consume exclusively to feed and survive, humans consume from a place of false superiority for the illusion of comfort. In effect, we have created the perfect conditions for parasitic species to thrive and reflect back to us what we are: parasitic predators with a gluttonous appetite for Life that can only be managed by our own self-destruction.
As repulsive as ticks are, the brilliance of their mirror imaging is not lost on me. Earth is mutating and it’s happening “much faster than expected”, to borrow a popular media term these days. The result is a planet that is dirtier, smellier, hotter, more crowded, more hostile and feeling increasingly claustrophobic. Combine this with the entropy of a failing civilization created by an omnicidal species with no capacity for connection to its Self and others, and there really is no room for a nurturing, “homey” experience on planet Earth anymore.
Throughout my life, I’ve often needed movement to provoke inspiration and personal evolution. Because I thrive on change, movement has been a gateway for fresh perspectives, expansive outlooks and a deeper understanding of my Self. Whether it’s completing an Ironman triathlon, hiking with my canine family, or moving across the country; physical movement has frequently engendered significant spiritual evolution. ”The rolling stone gathers no moss” has always been a pertinent metaphor for my life, and as I remove mySelf further from the madness of the world, I find my desire for a little sliver of sanity more needed than ever before. Needless to say, this has catalyzed a lot of movement in the last eight months in search for that elusive sliver.
It was this time last year that my partner and I embarked on an experimental adventure, shedding the trappings of a fixed address by moving into a tiny, 26 foot home on wheels. The personal evolution gleaned from living in a tiny space provided profound opportunities for letting go: of stuff, memories, limiting beliefs, and so much more. It also showed me the limitlessness of my own resourcefulness and inner resilience.
One thing that became glaringly apparent through the RV experience is that my existence on this planet, in the dominant human civilization to which I was born, is not without a price tag. Although my standards of living are significantly less than most in the Western world, I still have standards of comfort that include the health and well-being of myself and all in my family. It became apparent very quickly that RV/tiny home living was not going to provide this for us in a sustainable way. Within months of our adventure, we made the decision to let it go and open ourselves to the mystery of what would come next. The RV experience was intense, and it quickly propelled me into the next chapter.
During a three-month house sit for a Soul-friend on the Sunshine Coast, the pull to move east became increasingly clear. In fact, it became so prominent in my consciousness, that I knew my time in British Columbia was complete. The persistent tug of “home” was nudging me back to Ottawa, the place of my birth. Because my partner was not yet ready to say goodbye to the ocean, however, we worked out an agreeable understanding. Nova Scotia was our eastern/ocean compromise. In April 2018, we packed our three dogs, three cats, and few belongings into two little cars and set off on our cross-country adventure.
As physically lovely as Nova Scotia is, I felt like I had entered the twilight zone. It is both beautiful and so very strange. From my perspective, it was a time warp of 21st Century, technologically dependent cultural programming, embedded within a torpid 1950’s mindset. Nova Scotia is a place where time literally stands still. With churches littering the landscape as far as the eye can see, and graveyards filling the spaces between, the prevalence of dogma is impossible to disregard. With dogma comes rigidity and a psychic/emotional inertia that makes evolution virtually impossible. In a province where churches seemingly outnumber humans, there is nowhere to go but stopped. As said in the movie, Beautiful Creatures, “Most people are either too stupid to leave, or too stuck to move.” A most appropriate statement for the prevailing consciousness that felt, for lack of a better word, stifling.
There is also a romanticized notion of the Maritime fisherman that sticks like an impervious tumour to the cultural psyche. But the ocean, seaweed and beaches tell a completely different story. My consistent discoveries on simple beach walks with my partner and our dogs revealed this stark truth. Apparently, I’m not alone in these discoveries. As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I share with you a few photos of my typical findings. Click on photos to scroll through the image gallery.obesity plagues the Maritimes more than any other part of Canada. I understand why the international Canadian blight—the annual bloody seal massacre—will never end. I understand why the suffering of whales, seals, and endless ocean beings from entanglement and abandoned fishing gear will only worsen. I understand why so many beaches reek from the stench of raw sewage dumped by “out of sight, out of mind” coastal communities. I understand why the brutal, antediluvian pastime of hunting is so deeply entrenched in the “life-is-a-resource-for-me-myself-and-I” cultural psyche. After spending what felt like an extremely long summer in the Maritimes, I have a much better understanding of the impenetrable inertia defining the human species. I understand more fully why nothing ever changes. It can’t. The belief of superiority over Life is deeply rooted in our very being. There is no escaping the story of separation, or as I describe it in Beyond Hope, The Big Lie. It is so deeply woven into our language, traditions, beliefs, values, attitudes, cultures, and global civilization. Commencing with thousands of years of culturally programmed parenting, and the great divide that imposed gender roles create, separation is at the very core of our identity as a species. It shapes our perceptions, behaviours, choices, actions, roles, and experiences of Life. The only possible outcome of separation—from the Soul, and subsequently from Earth and the web of life—is the normalization of “eyes-wide-open” brutality.
To say that the summer of 2018 was bizarre is an understatement. In Nova Scotia, it was filled with ticks, fog, wind, sewage stink, and humidity so oppressive that the few house fans we had for relief succeeded only in circulating wet heat. Our walls and floors were “sweaty” with moisture from sunup to sundown. Clothing, sheets and bedding were constantly damp. My own skin often felt like too much to wear. The summer of 2018 was hotter than anything I’ve experienced in my 55 years of life, and I feel no comfort in knowing it was a global experience. Being immersed in the energetic density of Nova Scotia offered me the insight to understand how the inferno that played out this summer, was a much larger metaphor for a stifling collective consciousness.
Between the intolerable heat, the stagnant energy of sameness, and the oppressive stench of sewage, agricultural runoff, garbage, and ocean death, I couldn’t wait to leave. Life on the Atlantic Coast was eerily lifeless. If anything, my Maritime experience drove home the absolute certainty that our time as a species on an increasingly inhospitable planet is rapidly coming to an end.
The need to return to the place of my birth became insistent. Not because I believed it to be climatically safer or more comfortable (it’s not!), but because it brings me closer to those I cherish most. Within four months of our Maritime adventure, my partner was finally on board when she too, could no longer tolerate the pain of being near a dying ocean anymore.
We left the Atlantic Coast on Sept. 11, arriving in the Ottawa area the following day. It was an emotional trip for both of us because we knew we would not return to the ocean again. From coast to coast, the die-off we bore witness to—from starfish, crabs, and seals on the west coast; to squid, jellyfish, and birds on the Atlantic Coast—was staggering. In fact, the absence of what were once common birds—seagulls—was eerily palpable. Add to all of this the red tides, green ocean event, fishing nets, lobster traps, shotgun shells, plastic, and other assorted garbage, and the suffocating stench of raw sewage pumped by coastal communities directly into Atlantic harbours, the pain of it all was too great to bear. It really was time to leave.
Moving forward to where I’m at today, we are now living in a lovely old cottage in the rural outskirts of Ottawa on 22 beautiful acres of forest and field. Ironically, we lived in this very same place 11 years ago. It is a true healing sanctuary for all of us, including the deer, coyote, birds, bats, rodents, reptiles, and other wild beings who call this place home.
Being back in the Ottawa area makes it more apparent to me how dead the edges have become. In the last several years, I’ve experienced an ocean in shocking decay, wildfire, flooding, heatwaves, drought, and the barren lifelessness it all brings. While I confess to feeling a sense of relief in no longer being near the ocean—the edges—I don’t delude myself by believing it is not closing in on us. In fact, Ottawa experienced not one, but six devastating tornadoes only days after our arrival. Never before has this happened. Needless to say, I’m even more grateful to be closer to cherished friends and family once again in these increasingly tender times.
Living an “eyes-wide-open” life, I see everything, negate nothing, and do not pretend that something is what it is not. As grateful as I am for my return to what was once home, I had forgotten how fast-paced Ottawa is. Living away from large cities for so many years, I’d also forgotten the frantic mindlessness of consumer culture in a business-as-usual reality. Big box stores, shopping malls, strip malls, dollar stores, banks, coffee shops, grocery stores, fast-food chains, restaurants, and lookalike housing developments as far as the eye can see. Everywhere I turn, urban sprawl has decimated wetlands and forests for gluttonous opportunities to consume, consume, consume. The sensory overload of endless shopping and masses of people who always seem to be in a rush is exhausting. Fortunately, I live on the city outskirts near a small town where “personal and friendly” are still very much the common way. When not savouring the natural beauty of my current homestead, this is where I prefer to spend my time.
Now that I’m finally settled in a physical location that feels more fitting, I’ve been exploring what “home” really means to me. As my dear friend, Rae recently said, “At a time when our home is crumbling under the actions of our own species, we are needing to define what it means to be home, where home really is, and how we want to live these last years on earth.” I couldn’t agree more.
On the ethereal plane, home is the Soul, the truth of my Being. This is one of the few absolutes in my life. On the physical plane, however, it seems that home is whatever brings me closer to the Soul. Home used to be a physical location where I could “hang my hat”. This is no longer the case. That said, I’m also mindful how choosing the right physical location has become more important as the business-as-usual density of the larger collective interacts with my own intuitive knowing of biosphere collapse. One thing I know is that I feel most at home when in the presence of those who mean the most to me. In that, I realize that my search for home has, in essence, always been more of an inner reveal than an external search.
In the end, my conclusion is as follows: “Home” is a state of Being. Creating a physical sanctuary to sustain a state of Being while surrounded by nurturing people I love, is the ultimate definition of home. With the freedom to fully be mySelf in this beautiful space of respectful reciprocity, I am at peace. In that great freedom, I know that I am finally home.