Setting Sail – Chronicling a Climate Journey

Monday 11th July 2022 – Letting Go

It is a restlessly hot summer morning. It is early in the day, but already I am feeling twitchy. As far as the eye can see across the acid grassland the grass is brown. Everywhere, that is, except for the rugby and cricket pitches. Those are a jarring green. Life goes on – at least in the sense of the lush green, closely-cropped English lawn and the recreational games it is host to.

July fire energy. Except it should not be this hot or this dry. A nagging sense of unease pulls at my brow and my heart. As I walk, I know I am making the right decision. No more business as usual. I am being called to let go of the shore. All the things that once felt safe and secure are revealing themselves to be more like a trap, ensnaring the unwary. Part of my conditioned brain cannot release the idea that they are still where comfort and familiarity are offered, like drugs to an addict. I shake off this toxic image and keep walking, refocusing on the nature around me and on the pull of living aligned with my values. I am not running away. The swifts fly high overhead, screaming like a meditation bell calling me back to all that is good and joyful. Is this what it feels like to take flight for the first time? To fledge a nest? I am trusting nature to hold me, to guide my path, like the wind that sweeps the gulls back to their roost in the evening.

After work, in the late afternoon, I sit in my garden sit-spot and watch a red kite wheel in the distance high above the park. As I child I longed to see a red kite. Yet as their numbers have soared, it is the birds from my childhood whom I took for granted – the sparrows, starlings and song thrushes, that I hope will make their home here. The world my daughters know has far fewer hedges with chatty sparrows. Have they ever even once heard the repeated tapping of a song thrush breaking open snail shells on a stone anvil?

My thoughts turn to what comes next – FIRE.

 

Thursday 21st July 2022 – FIRE

As I wrote those words, I had in mind the fire energy of the season and the controlled and measured building of a campfire. I guided the nature connection session on Sunday using imagery and metaphor – taking great care and intention, gathering the resources, building skilfully and then consciously choosing whether or not to ignite it. I had in mind the metaphor of fire building for the projects I was hoping to bring to life and of letting go and transformation, but in a rather planned and measured sense. I should have known that was not what I was feeling into.

On Tuesday the UK hit a new weather record, recording temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. And London burned. A great ring of fire. Businesses stopped operations, roads closed and the London Fire Brigade had their busiest day since the Second World War. My daughter’s school friends were evacuated from their home.

Fire is creative, forging and transforming things and it is destructive. Fire is a messenger. Nature’s messenger. It’s time.

I handed in my notice today. I am leaving the shore and I don’t know exactly where I am heading. It’s not just the security of a job where every day my to-do list is clear, where I am guaranteed a monthly pay cheque, pension, sick pay and insurance if things go badly wrong, although that has been such a major part of my life and I am genuinely sad to be leaving. It’s something more than that. I cannot help but feel that what is happening in the world – the cost of living crisis, the apparently growing divisions, war, pandemics, social justice, refugees, ecological collapse and climate breakdown – all of it is somehow connected. At its heart, a broken story – that we are separate and disconnected, that we can isolate ourselves from one another and from the rest of nature – that what we do makes no difference. Nature is telling a different story, but I can’t hear it clearly above the cacophony of urban life.

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