A couple of days ago I was walking along a beach near Lyme Regis. This part of the coastline is known as ‘Jurassic’ due to its ancient layers of sedimentary rock. Many fossils have been found in this area from 185 million years ago, telling us about prehistoric life.
Picking over the past
The day I was there, the sun was shining brightly and the sea was a vivid blue. It felt like spring. I passed several people searching for fossils, bending over, picking up pieces of shell and stone, rubbing the mud and sand off and moving slowly on with their search while the waves washed in and out, seagulls flew overhead and time inched quietly on.
Haiku for catharsis
I thought about this curiosity we have for the past, this pull to understand better our connection with what went before. And I thought about the now, about the deep concern I have in relation to the reverberations of the new US President’s attitude, words and policies, and not least the impact his decisions will have on our environment, our beautiful, old planet. Feeling gloomy, I took out my pad and wrote this down:
Blood rivers flow out
through fossil earth, under pale
moon, stone sky, today.
Then I thought of a piece I had just read in Ecotherapy: Healing with Nature in Mind. In his essay ‘Healing and the Great Work’, K. Lauren de Boer talks about how opening ourselves up to the forces of nature that have shaped us offers healing, while also revealing to us the wisdom of our natural world that has been constantly evolving over four billion years.
Keeping up the good fight
The message here seems to be one of hope and, for me, chimes strongly with Solnit’s main premise in her book Hope in the Dark, which I’ve referred to recently here , that hope and action feed each other. Standing on the beach, managing to resist giving in to a loss of belief that the struggle is worth it, I reminded myself that as long as we keep excavating the past, scrutinising the present and planning in collaboration for the future, new, better things can and will emerge.
Although we seem to be hovering in a dark place in history, at the same time, and as De Boer notes, awakening in our consciousness today “is the growing realization that we live in a self-organizing, self-healing, self-generative community, and that this creativity courses through the human as surely as it does through the galaxies and the panoply of life on Earth”.
Just as the shocking executive orders sealed with Trump’s signature grow, so too do the creative acts of resistance. The Women’s March last Saturday was one of them and in the last few days there have been so many other examples: the Greenpeace activists hanging the huge ‘Resist’ banner by the White House; the National Parks Service going rogue in response to the Trump Twitter ban, to name just a couple.
Comforted and inspired by this wonderfully creative activism, the next day, sitting by the sea on another beach, I was moved to write something a little more positive:
Haiku for hope
From the spring, wells hope.
Under the tree, roots reach deep.
Together, we rise tall.