In the light of David Whyte’s poem and the information overload that many of us felt at this conference, I was intrigued by the use of the word “hungry” and “craving” which many participants expressed when they described their longing for spiritual and emotional processes that would facilitate their holding megadoses of new and disturbing information. The attendees at the conference represent only one segment of the collapse-aware population, but as a result of my experience at the conference and traveling throughout the country and working with individuals nationally and around the world, I hear the exact same longing expressed repeatedly and almost verbatim wherever I go. If anyone has any doubt that this aspect of confronting collapse is crucial, they are not listening.
Today is Memorial Day, created many years ago with the intention of honoring the fallen in battle. While we hold them in our hearts alongside the horrors of war, what must also be remembered and cherished on this day is the earth community in which we are innately and organically embedded. Whatever you believe about NTE, which is really of little importance in the larger scheme of things, we are losing this planet by way of the actions of our very immature, uninitiated, unwizened species. If you can, go out in nature today and reconnect with some aspect of it. Hold it close to your heart as you would your child or a beloved. These are the good ole days, and this is as good as it is likely to get.
Attendance this year is about the same as last year with a number of new faces as well as a few individuals returning from 2012. This conference, which Orren Whiddon hopes to put in place as an annual event, offers not only the opportunity to “take the temperature” of the collapse-aware community, it provides the opportunity to dialog in depth with many of the notable shapers of our thinking about collapse and our responses to it. Equally rewarding is our dialog with each other, the formation of meaningful friendships, and a taste of what it might be like to journey together through the unraveling.
When I began writing this article, a friend of mine had recently entered hospice. While I was finishing the article, my friend died. She was not in the same town as I, but during the past month, we had been able to speak by phone several times a week. Given my friend’s decline and death and its impact on me, I was not taken aback by Daniel Drumright’s essay “The Irreconcilable Acceptance Of Near-Term Extinction,” posted last week on Guy McPherson’s Nature Bats Last blog.
With The Age of Limits our purpose was twofold, to speak the words… Decline, Collapse, and Die Off. Words that are truly devastating in their scope—and to create a conversational format based on face to face human interaction, without the deceptive anonymity of pixels on a screen. In these ways The Age of Limits was a great first year success as attendees stepped into the conversational space to share their own experiences and understanding of the emergent collapse, stepping outside of the emotional refuge of quantitative analysis, blog posts and comment streams to engage one another on a human and personal level. As this engagement progressed, as our temporary weekend community matured, people began to take risks and reveal their private emotional processing of collapse…and their own part in it. And this process of risk taking, of emotional self revelation, became itself one of the powerful currents of the event; a point well illustrated by our video of attendee interactions, and an outcome that was not anticipated by myself as the organizer. Lesson learned.
I invite the reader to review the features of community resilience and personal resilience several times. In doing so, I believe it is impossible to miss their inextricable connection and how the two types of resilience impact the other given the reality that individuals and communities foster both.
Whether it be the rotting, gray carcasses of bleak, boarded up city blocks of abandoned store fronts; suburban cul de sacs consisting of vacant, foreclosed homes; countless crumbling bridges and pot-hole-pocked roads; tasteless, thoughtlessly-constructed high rises; irredeemably scarred mountaintops; or charred forests ravaged by the worst fire season in recent memory, the landscape of our planet is becoming increasingly dull, drab, and downright dismal.
In these turbulent times, it is both comforting and inspiring to hear the words of the mystical Persian poet, Rumi, who after more than 700 years is being passionately embraced by millions around the world who crave the juice and joy of poetry that speaks powerfully and personally to life in this age of uncertainty.
Want to become more emotionally resilient as life becomes more uncertain? Consider attending the workshops on cultivating emotional resilience, advertised on this page
We are a nation on the edge of a nervous breakdown. We consume two-thirds of the world’s anti-depressants as we battle for position in the economy. Why not just declare a cease-fire with the Joneses we’ve been trying to keep up with? We’ve bought into the notion that if we’re not wealthy, we’re not good enough, which creates horrible stress and anxiety. Why not become citizens again, creating employee-owned businesses and member-owned credit unions that can reduce both killer stress and unnecessary expenses? (Credit unions save $8 billion a year in interest on loans because they are non-profit) Why not invest in community bonds, portfolios and banks and make living returns on our investments?