Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Darkness and Despair

No, I haven't disappeared from the face of the earth. Life at home has been stressful and my quiet job has gotten very, very busy. I haven't had the time to put into this blog. Life will probably quiet down but it might not be until December--or next year.

I started writing the intro for a new series on 'Life After Fuel', and I have lots of ideas for it (and lots of resources), so hopefully when I get the time I can plunge into that.

Meanwhile, I almost always write something this time of the year to honor the pagan feast of Samhain. (Pronounced, for some reason having to do with celtic languages, like 'sow-wen'. See Darkness, 11/1/08, Out of Darkness, 11/1/09, and Death, Decay, and Impermanence, 11/1/10 for my previous posts.)

One aspect of darkness I want to look at is the feeling of despair. This is not an easy feeling for me--or for many people, I imagine. I have a natural optimism that keeps finding reasons for hope, no matter what. I also fear that if I felt some of the real despair that is all around, I would sink into it and become depressed and hopeless.

Yet the despair is there. I'm not sure we (the human species) are going to make it and I am sure that if we do, it will be through a lot of pain and suffering, and I often feel like there isn't much that I can do to affect that. I don't want to deny those feelings, but I also don't want to sink into them and give up. I am not going to give up hopefulness, but I wonder if there is a way to hold to both hope and despair and not give up (or give into) either.

As the darkness, and the cold, and the winter rolls in, I want to acknowledge my despair, and my grieving over the way we are stuck in what we are doing, and continue to do it, even if it means our destruction. I want to feel those feelings and also the hope that even the little I can do may make some slight bit of difference.

I've had the thought (occasionally) that if we are doomed, we should treat each other the way we'd treat someone who is dying. Like hospice work, we need to give comfort and care to each other. If we are going to disappear as a species, it's worth being gentle and supportive to people and allow ourselves to die out with dignity. Of course, I still want to work to make this not happen, but I think it is worth feeling the uncertainty, and the despair, and remain open to the possibility that we are not going to make it. And whether we do, or we don't, loving each other is the best way to go. And for now I will try to remain open to the darkness and despair.

Quote of the Day: "We are bombarded by signals of distress--ecological destruction, social breakdown, and uncontrolled nuclear proliferation. Not surprisingly, we are feeling despair--a despair well merited by the machinery of mass death we continue to create and serve. What is surprising is the extent to which we hide this despair from ourselves and each other. ...
"Despair in this context, is not a macabre certainty of doom or a pathological condition of depression and futility. ... Rather, as it is being experienced by increasing numbers of people across a broad spectrum of society, despair is the loss of the assumption that the species will inevitably pull through. ...
"So long as we see ourselves as essentially separate, competitive, and ego-identified beings, it is difficult to accept the validity of our social despair, deriving as it does from interconnectedness. Both our capacity to grieve for others and our power to cope with this grief spring from the great matrix of relationships in which we take our being." - Joanna Macy


Austan said...

Great post! Despair is an energy like any other, and can be transformed and transforming.

MoonRaven said...

Thanks for the comment. That's a good way of putting it: despair can be transformed and transforming. I will be thinking about that.

I hope you had a good Samhain.