I don't know about you, but I can't help but get deeply affected by the alarming calls to action concerning the state of our world; the impending nuclear holocaust, the poisoning of our planet and inevitable cross species extinctions looming, including our own of course.
I grew up in a post war era (which sounds weird to say cause when has there not been war somewhere on this planet?), but you know, post WW2, in Canada. When I was a very small child I couldn't help but feel crippled by this impending sense of doom. I distinctly remember not wanting to be here on the planet at all. I felt like I wasn't meant to be here, like there was some terrible mistake, and nothing could convince me otherwise. I spent most of my childhood hiding from people and spending much of my time in the outdoors in the close proximity of “other” species where I felt safe and innately connected. I didn't talk about this. I hardly talked to anyone.
How much of this had to do with nature versus nurture I’m not sure. But I suspect now that all the years leading up to and during the war, as well as the past history of my ancestor's who struggled for 400 years after being exiled out of their homeland, solidified these vulnerabilities. But while many of my friends played blissfully amongst themselves unaware of the world's darker side, I was feeling overwhelmed, and anxious, hoping that I would stay safe and insulated from the horrors “out there”.
It took me many years to realize that I was wasting my life away worrying about situations and outcomes that I really could not control or ones that may never happen. My family had many personal struggles and losses that others did not and that didn't seem fair to my child mind and I was left traumatized by the time I ventured out into the world at age 18.
My family modeled the “knowledge is power” philosophy, so what was I to do with all these experiences and the doom and gloom prophesies that were and still are part of our “modern day” landscape? If knowledge was power, wasn't it rather pointless when there was little I felt I could do to help the impossible situation of ongoing suffering, world poverty, war and barbarism that never seemed to end? It still hasn't: While I write this, someone somewhere is suffering greatly at the hands of another. Every day we live our lives knowing that humanity is on the brink of extinction and yet we trundle along living our lives as though it were not true.
Enter “living in the moment”: How does one do that without guilt? Do we enjoy whatever small gift of peace we have at any given moment and ignore the rest? I go to tinybuddha.com a lot for grains of insight! I still haven't quite figured this out, but I'm piecing it together slowly. It helped me to know that I like many artists out there, fall into the Highly Sensitive genotype, 20% of the population to be exact. No wonder I've felt alone!
If this is you, you will find yourself on the outer skirts of society looking on in with amazement feeling both impelled to “do something” while simultaneously wanting to run away! There's no easy way to navigate around this obvious dilemma! Fortunately, we can walk a line somewhere in the middle where we do our best to “make a difference” by adopting values that pay attention to a lifestyle that supports what we all desperately want: Peace, harmony, acceptance, good health, sustainability, longevity, less suffering, empathy and understanding.
Knowing we are not alone and CAN do our part, no matter how small, is the best answer I've been able to come up with. If we all did this the overall effect would be enormous.
I realize all too well that if people like Oprah, our political leaders and David Suzuki can't do enough to inspire the change needed to avoid the collision course we as humanity are on, then I certainly cannot, but I'm going to play my best and most responsible part anyway and hope that others follow suit. I will strive to live each precious day that I have as though it were my last and laugh a little more (along with those like John Oliver) at the ludicrousy of it all!