Changes to Come

In the early 1990’s over a period of several months, I studied “Knowledge of Freedom: Time to Change,” a book by Tarthang Tulku. That title is still meaningful to me, 30 years later, because when I noticed that there had been moments in my past life when I had made important changes, I felt empowered to embark on a life of transformation going forward. Noticing the freedom that had allowed me to change at other times, I felt a new confidence that allowed me to embrace whatever possibilities awaited me in the future.

These days, thinking about all the unwelcome changes that are taking place environmentally, politically, societally, the ability to make changes in my personal life, which could make a difference in our world, often feels like running up the side of a glacier, alongside reindeer, polar bears and the ghosts of woolly mammoths, while the glacier itself is sliding down—faster than I can run–into the open water below.

No matter how fast we run, a positive future for our Earth and for all the beings who have nowhere else to live, is becoming increasingly hard to imagine. The grand symphony of life in which we have evolved–together with our fellow creatures and Earth Herself–is now full of voices calling out for help.

In their place, are discarded plastic, toxic chemicals, oil spills coating the feathered wings of seabirds who cannot lift free into the winds above the oily waves. These remnants of the human way of living cannot reverberate with the natural world that has given birth to us all. These new arrivals are separate anomalies that must remain forever alone in a world that can’t recognize them; because they are either dying or were never alive.

Perhaps the world outside us is not destined to change in the ways that we want it to. I don’t know why it would—any more than would the ocean stop a tsunami wave heading toward a pebble that is alarmed at what is about to happen to the beach on which it sits.

But perhaps it is not too late for us to change. Perhaps we can notice what’s going on inside us and around us, and the thread of wholeness that joins each to everything else.

But as I say that, and hope that this kind of awareness can be healing and helpful, I wonder what exactly is the value of being aware of the sliding icesheet on which future generations will have to try to live their lives. I am not one of those who will have to live with the consequences of what my generation is continuing to inflict on our planet.

Perhaps a start is to say how sorry we are to have been part of the generation now growing old. We are the generation who knew that the climate was becoming unstable long before the present fires, floods and extinctions became the new, undeniable norm. We may not have been the active perpetrators of this now visible catastrophe. But, if you’re like me, you never found the courage to devote your life to being the caring child of Mother Earth, offering her sips of water as she bears her cross up the steep incline that awaits us and all who come after us.

One comment to “Changes to Come”
  1. Too many people are in denial about what is happening. My brother, a geologist, was in denial about rising ocean levels as recently as 2 years ago. His house, just outside of New Orleans, sits 3 feet above sea level. Maybe he’s still in denial. Part of it is political.

    Good summary, Michael.

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