This is my final post of the series on being a resource seeking a need, my exploration of the difficulties I am having with retirement. An interesting experience for me — sometimes in the sense of the Chinese curse. Since you the reader will also encounter these issues, I hope you have found the series interesting.
My PhD work also exposed me directly to the seriousness and consequences of global warming — that humanity is truly on a path of suicide, as a result both of our hubris and our acedia. I also found out the truth of a statement by the 17th century philosopher-scientist Pascal who noted that: “those who study acedia do not come away unscathed.” As part of my eldership transition, I had to work through about two years of intense despair as I came to terms with the tragic path we are on as a species.
I’m now over that despair, simply sad that the human species is so complex. And I continue to deepen my explorations — it is my way of sustaining myself. Currently, I strive to become more contemplative, deepening my inner world of spirit as I expand into the world of activism. In my desire to contribute, I cannot sit back and simply accept this outcome.
As I engage in being a climate activist, I am currently approaching various organizations seeking a need. What has surprised me most is how difficult it is to make contact. The websites of many non-profit organizations are not especially user-friendly. If I wanted to make a donation of money, it would be relatively easy, but to find a human being with whom to talk, to discuss how I might contribute, has proven a challenge. However, I am slowly making contact — mini-steps.
Overall, I have had such an interesting life. As a young adult, intending to be a theoretical astrophysicist, it would have been utterly inconceivable to me that I would end up studying the inner cosmos, the realm of consciousness. Similarly, as a introvert frequently seeking to be a hermit, it is also profoundly strange to move to being an activist.
I do know that many people are overwhelmed by the complexity of global warming. It is a major part of the Climate Lie as described by The Climate Mobilization. And it is a super-wicked problem (see my earliest postings) — the complexity is immense, there is no one in charge of “fixing” it, we have caused it, and we only have a limited time to fix it. It always seems like two steps forward, and three backwards. I don’t in any way blame people for being overwhelmed, for wanting to deny it, for not wanting to talk about it.
But these behavior patterns, these emotional patterns, will not resolve it. And we only have a limited time to change the consequences. Token gestures will not work, nor will good intentions: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Actions made with good intentions speak much louder than motivation that encourages good intentions.
Dealing with my own pain is what has led to my personal success.
So this is where I am left — in my being a resource seeking a need. I believe I have immense understanding and skill at emotional process, and I believe that our culture both needs these skills, and yet avoids these skills. Unless we do the work of emotional maturity, we will not survive. The dynamics of power are too pervasive in scope and eventually will lead to our demise.
All this became summarized for me in my statement that: “As individuals, human beings are capable of astounding greatness, but as a species, we are psychotic.” We have a choice to respond to global warming, but we are very slow to do so. We have many resources, but we are disorganized in how we access them.
We respond best to acute situations. And these situations are increasing — witness the severity of the current hurricane season with its massive destruction in Haiti (where the recovery resources are abysmal) and Florida (which at least has resources). But global warming is not an acute issue, and it is subject to many subtle positive feedback loops — so many forms of destruction are coming.
If we wait, our resources will go to acute recovery; our emotional resources will be spent on symptoms, rather than systems. There is likely a small window of opportunity to do the emotional work of maturity, my skill set, but I am not hopeful that it will be utilized.
However, to live into the scenario of preventing destruction is one of despair. I choose to live into being available when asked. I’m willing to put some energy into waving the warming flag, even acting into civil disobedience, but not that of pushing to get a response from those who do not want to listen. I always insist on setting an outcome that satisfies me, not one that impacts others — consistent with my knowledge of emotional triangles — then I am less likely to burnout.
I also often wonder as to how other people find retirement, whether they too want to contribute, and how they find ways to do so. Surely there are huge resources that are untapped. From my perspective, it is part of our immaturity as a Western culture that we do not value elders.
They have much to offer, and would have more if there was an interplay that valued wisdom. When a culture does not value wisdom, elders do not need to strive for wisdom; they simply play golf. Perhaps too, there is wisdom in golf. There is skill, but it seems mainly to entertain and/or fill time, without adding to maturity.
Such are the twists and turns. I want to make a difference, but have yet to find a way that completes me at this eldership stage in my life.