Thursday, November 18, 2021

Survival: Agility of Mind and Heart

One of the various road-collapses on the Coquihalla Highway in British Columbia.
Photo used with permission from Douglas Noblet, of Wild Air Photography.
Douglas has shared a series of these photos here, on Facebook.

I was looking at these photos by Douglas Noblet, this morning, which seem to be mainly of the Fraser Valley, and highway collapses of the Coquihalla and the Hope-Princeton, and I found myself wondering how long it will take to restore our infrastructure. Months? Maybe years for the Coquihalla? (More on what's broken, here: North Shore News

Then I realized that we're in climate free-fall, now. Any restoration is going to be hampered by increasing floods, blizzards, storms, fires, deep-freezes and heat-waves, not to mention the human issues like pandemics, supply-disruption, economic strife, labour and food shortages. Maybe the answer isn't how to get back to old-normal, but how we move forward instead of backward, and build new normal

The flooded Sumas Prairie in British Columbia.
Photo used with permission from Douglas Noblet, of Wild Air Photography.
Douglas has shared a series of these photos here, on Facebook.

Upon hearing that thousands of dairy cows (half our province's dairy production) have drowned in their barns, I am ashamed to say that along with immense grief, I felt an urge to go buy "the last milk". My cousin reports that stores are bursting with panic-shoppers. What was I thinking?! Milk?! Really?! Milk is not a "need". Thankfully we didn't buy any. 

But you know what is a need? Love. Community. Right now we have some of our extended family here, who out of sheer luck got briefly lost on their way home to Princeton, and managed to just barely miss being caught in the Agassiz slide. So they're stuck here on the coast while their town is flooded. The silver lining to this situation is that, while we haven't seen them in over two years, due to the pandemic, last night I got to feel their arms around me, again. It was a huge relief. 

I know these photos are terrifying. It's awful to wonder if or how our kids will manage if schools remain closed, as they are now throughout the flooded valley and other towns. It's awful to wonder how our supplies and jobs and communities will survive if these highways and industries don't get repaired soon. It's awful just to wonder what we'll feed our kids if they can't have cereal with milk and they refuse to eat anything else! I know--it's a fear borne of privilege. But it's fear. We feel so easily lost at sea with no answers; no clear vision of where we're going. This fear leads to panic shopping, competition, greed, and more reckless consumption. It's exactly how we got to this place in human evolution, and the only way out is to let go of the fear. 

Now I'm thinking about how we can change, instead of rebuilding. It isn't the cows' milk we depend on, nor the farmland it came from. The Sumas Prairie was created a century ago by draining an enormous wetland. It was never our land, to begin with, and the question of buying milk seems so meaningless, now. It isn't the infrastructure that creates land for industrial farming, or brings our groceries from afar, nor the schools that hold our children while we work to buy the milk. It's love. Love is what makes us resilient. Love is what has brought citizens and business owners in the town of Hope to feed and shelter travellers trapped by mudslides. Love is what gives us the strength to grow food in the first place, to share with our neighbours even when we barely have enough, ourselves, to hold up our communities and hold on to hope. Love is what supports us while our minds are doing the amazing task of being agile; of finding solutions to problems we never fathomed just a few years ago. Love is what creates agility of mind and heart, and gives us the power to survive. 

The new normal we need to be building will become evident as the old normal is no longer available. For me, it is found in the arms of my loved ones. If I never drink milk again, and if my whole "normal" becomes something I can't even fathom, right now, it will be built on love.

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