The weather has been unseasonably warm here so far this winter. Luckily, I live at around 3000 feet, so a temperature increase here doesn’t feel as drastic. Even though we’re not talking about it much, most rational adults collectively understand that we are seeing the initial effects of global warming: melting ice caps and warming average temperatures.
Part of me feels panicked about this. The little girl who used to save earthworms from drowning in rain puddles won’t be able to save each creature who suffers the effects of this change. Just the other night, I saw frogs hopping on the roadway during a rainstorm, which is unusual for December, it seems. What will happen to those out-of-season creatures when the weather suddenly turns cold? It saddens me to think about it.
But my more adult side understands that adapting to this change is all we can realistically hope to do. The planet’s ecology is too massive for humans to control, so the Earth will adjust, whether that suits us or not. My meditative side knows that accepting what I observe, and responding appropriately to it, is the best way to cope with whatever life throws my way. After the dot com bust, one of the biggest mistakes I made was that I didn’t react fast enough to the changes. I lamented what had been, rather than embracing and facing what was happening at the time. This was a costly mistake.
So now, I try to dodge deer and other creatures on the roadway, while saying a short prayer for those that have been killed. I don’t spend too much time agonizing over the sight of them, like I used to though. I’ll go out and mow the grass, which continues to grow even after the leaves are gone from the trees, even though this “shouldn’t be happening”. I recycle and buy recycled products as much as I can, in order to minimize my family’s impact on the environment. Mostly, I’m learning to look at the world differently than my dad, who grew up in the 1950’s when there was no worry about over-consumption or pollution.
He used to dump oil on the ground to lay the dust in the driveway. He would pour creosote on fence posts to keep insects from eating the posts. He would paint cars without dust masks, change drum brakes which exposed him to asbestos dust, and wash his hands in kerosene after working out in the garage. I’m sure this disregard for his personal safety was thought of as macho at the time.
He has now lived with lung cancer for the last three years. He is on oxygen and has a diminished lung capacity. The man who was an accomplished mechanic and carpenter now shuffles from the bed to the dinner table and back, a shell of his former self. As a child, he idealized the idea of cowboys and war heroes. He may still have a “John Wayne” mentality, but he’s been affected by his actions and environment, whether he chooses to see it or not. The Marlboro Man is still immersed in the world, regardless of his posturing. (My dad didn’t smoke, but I’m referring more broadly to our individualistic society.)
I have had to accept these health changes in my father quite rapidly. He hasn’t really been able to absorb it fully. It saddens me to know that his workaholic tendencies may end up being what kills him. My sister is also working herself to death to support grown children with addictions who live with her. I don’t want to go that route. I want to help the most people I can with the talents I’ve been given. I don’t want to be a needless martyr to consumption and capitalism. If I can live through being a cancer caregiver, I can live through anything. So that’s how I feel about global warming: the planet is getting sick, too. I’ll do what I can to help us cope.