There is a sad, humbling peace beneath the soft pain of realizing I am as helpless as the trees to prevent the age old forests from being torn down in one day for the filth stained greed that most others foolishly believe is a benefit to my species but we are not the same breed I am just another animal left homeless in the wreckage forced to watch the endless rape of our most holy mother earth as I tremble with the reeds bearing witness to the pain pulsating through all of nature is the only gesture I can offer to lie down alongside my fellow woodland creatures beneath the brutal, blood-soaked wheels of industry as we watch the death of beauty the end of everything
Forests that spent hundreds of years flourishing are flattened in a single day Construction sounds that keep me up at night from the new fracking site I can't bear to crest another hill and see a desolate dirt pile where there was once a green sea of leaves Cranes have pushed out the animals that once inhabited the dense forest barren landscapes replace all life Human destruction is so much faster than mother nature's graceful hands exponential progression toward the end
I've always been afraid of final suffering and mortality I used to wonder how I would handle a death sentence from a doctor life laid out on a definitive timeline no where left to hide I never expected that sentence to come from scientists instead given the heavy knowledge of our impending expiration date I never thought dying alone would feel like a blessing It's better than awaiting the end of everything at once among crowds of people with their eyes covered "I told you so" won't feel very satisfying I've been reading books for the terminally ill in an attempt to learn how to cope with utter annihilation on my own But none of them touch the terror of the truth I harbor none of them tell you how to prepare for an apocalypse or to get your loved ones to take you seriously Fear follows me closely as I float through these shapes and forms I find no comfort in the idea of life eternal or peace in the notion of not existing both options terrify me equally at least there's a dark humor in that But more than anything I fear the reality that my final days, months, even years will be shrouded in unfathomable suffering I fear the rising terror and despair stealing the color from my family's faces but I guess I've always been afraid
Facing the End
There is a quiet comfort in suffering shared pain made thin as it spreads across more shoulders The world buckling beneath my feet as I listen to the last gasps before the inevitable end I reach for the hands of my fellow humans in this, our final chance to mourn together Met with perplexed looks eyes glazed over in utter denial as the water rises to our throats I am left to drown alone Grief compounded by a society that gaslights me despite indisputable facts holding onto delusional hope The stunning arrogance of humanity always believing everything will be okay even as we watch the earth writhe convulsing on its deathbed The clock has long since run out is it really too much to ask to not face this unbearable reality all on my own?
Should We Tell the Children
Our planet is dying we can't save it now we won't even try it's too late we're running out of water we've poisoned the soil and air the oceans are nearly empty all for the sake of industry panicked, worried words stick in my throat as a child I love enters the room my voice falls to a whisper when she's near I can't bear to let her hear how can I tell her that her future is short that the ones who were supposed to protect her have failed, are afraid too I want to spare her the pain of knowing these dark truths a difficult decision between preserving her innocence and her right to have all the information surely she can see our knit brows and our tears she can hear our hushed conversations the pity and sorrow in our eyes when we look at her she can undoubtedly feel the energy of our dis-ease it seems cruel to be honest when there is nothing we can do now still I remember how cheated I've felt how unprepared for reality adults left me One day soon the decision will be made for me when that day comes I hope she knows we just wanted to give her as much happiness, as many days free from suffering as possible
Coping with the End
Total disassociation, fully out your mind. Googling derealization, hating what you find. That unapparent summer air in early fall. The quiet comprehending of the ending of it all.Funny Feeling – Bo Burnham
The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. Over the past six or seven years I’ve gone through all of these stages. Now it feels like I teeter back and forth between depression and acceptance. Seven years may seem like a rather long time to grieve, but it’ll sound more appropriate when I explain that I am not grieving the death of a loved one or a romantic relationship. No, I am grieving the earth, my own life, all life. I am grieving the slow, steady death of our planet and all that it holds.
When I first discovered just how close we already were to the end of everything, I was furious. How could those in power and those that came before me ignore this, and even worse, continue contributing to it? The bitter hatred for humanity I already harbored sharpened like a knife’s edge, cutting me deeper than it ever had before. Then I felt passionately compelled to stop our frenzied descent toward destruction. In desperation, I implored people to share my concern about what leading environmental scientists were saying, to do all that they could in a personal capacity to make a difference, even if it was hard, even if it still might already be too late.
Naively in the beginning, I really thought the issue was that people did not know the information that I knew, and that if they did, they would understand and take action. Depression and despair quickly set in when I realized that wasn’t the case. It wasn’t only that people didn’t know. They refused to know. As I passed through the stages of grief alone, the rest of the world hangs idle in the “denial” phase. Even though I desperately want others to be by my side through this process, I’ve come to accept that they won’t be. I’ve even begun to feel it’s a mercy that they don’t believe the things I tell them. While I want my friends, family, and community to understand the dire situation we are in, I don’t want them to suffer with that knowledge like I have for all of these years. However, in case there are people out there that feel the weight of this impending doom like I do, I want to at least share a few of the ways in which I’ve been managing to cope.
One: Historical Perspective
One of the hardest parts of all this in the beginning was feeling robbed of the long life we are implicitly promised as children. It seemed so unfair to know that I would never experience old age, that I would live only half as long as I had anticipated. Sometimes I found myself wishing that I had been born in a different time so I wouldn’t have to see the world go up in smoke one day.
I soon realized that this isn’t really something I would want. For the vast majority of human history, my life would have been far worse and perhaps even shorter. As a woman I would have had no rights or freedom. I would have likely died by now in childbirth or from some horrible misunderstood disease. The average human life expectancy for a large portion of history was roughly 30 years.
I’ll still hopefully get to live for a decade or two more than that. Not to mention the quality of these 30-50 years of mine will be far superior to the quality of billions of peoples throughout history. I’ve experienced more novelty, luxury, comfort, and pleasure than the vast majority of humans that have lived. And that I am truly grateful for.
Two: Life Will Go On
It’s no secret that I don’t care much for humanity and it’s consistent habit of committing atrocities against other beings and each other. The idea of the human race ending, pretty much means nothing to me. We are a plague on this earth and all her other creatures. But the idea that because of our stupidity, greed, and selfishness the rest of the life of earth would also perish with us was unbearable to me. I look out at the complexity, the diversity, the staggering beauty of the world around me, and I can’t cope with thinking it will all disappear with us.
Learning of the animals that are still thriving in the ghost town that is Chernobyl gave me some hope. Yes, a huge portion of the life we now know of on earth will surely be wiped out by the effects of manmade climate change and the resulting wars over the remaining resources. Yet, life in general, is more resilient than I once believed. All life will not end. Some creatures will survive even this. And in time they will grow and evolve and repopulate this decimated planet until it is vibrant and flourishing yet again. One day there will be a beautiful, new earth free from the tyranny of humans. That thought brings me some peace.
Three: Purpose is Relative
When the heavy thoughts of our fast approaching end cloud my mind, one of the main themes becomes: What’s the point? Why should I continue on knowing that the end will be suffering and annihilation? I might as well just give up. Nothing matters.
These thoughts, while poignantly felt, are puzzling to me. Why should the end being sooner rather than later effect the meaning I find in life? Whether I die at 40 or 80, there will be immense fear and suffering. That isn’t something that I would escape if the world weren’t dying with me. Besides, life is not a guarantee. I could have died in my sleep last night. I could die in a car accident tomorrow. I could have developed leukemia as a child and not lived past the age of 7.
Purpose and meaning are not dependent on the length or last sentence in this book called life. I get to decide my own purpose. I determine the meaning behind all of this. The significance of my life is not forfeited due to the sudden realization that it will be much shorter than anticipated. My life matters, my happiness matters, the love I have for others matters, regardless of when death finds me.
Contemplating and combating these discouraging, depressing thoughts is what I am tasked with now. My greatest lesson in life will be learning how to be present and grateful for where I am now, regardless of what may come in the following moment. I’ve fought and screamed. I’ve begged for the world to stop this. I’ve surrendered to my sadness and helplessness in the face of this calamity. Now all that’s left is acceptance. The severity of my fate is not what I had ever expected, but it isn’t something that can be changed or avoided. There is peace in accepting that. Through acceptance I will salvage the time that I do have. I still have time to fill with joy and love and awe, and the gratitude I feel for that fact is enough to get me through anything. It’s enough to carry me into the end.
The Absolute Absurdity of Living in Space
With the Earth, our environment and ecosystems, collapsing and crumbling away beneath our feet the obvious solutions and the urgency of implementing them have gone largely unacknowledged by the vast majority of the human race. No one seems interested in resolving the problem or undoing the damage that our species has caused. (Not that we have enough time now anyway.) No, instead people are entirely focused on the idiotic idea of moving society into space permanently.
It is absolutely surreal to see just how many people are giddy with excitement about the Elon Musks of the world burning up our extremely limited resources to jerk themselves off through space travel. Why the fuck was Jezz Bezos wearing a god damn cowboy hat for his purposeless rocket launch? It’s like I’m living in some kind of bizarre dream where I’m the only one with any concerns about the absurdity of all this.
It has never made sense to me why everyone seems to be obsessed with outer space and space travel. Sure it’s neat to wonder what might be out there. Surely somewhere, light years away, far past our current technology’s ability to travel, something is out there. However, the fact remains that we have no ability to know that and won’t for the foreseeable future. If we had matters handled on our own planet and were living in some kind of utopia, I think space travel would be an intriguing and worthwhile investment of our time and money.
I’m not arguing that it isn’t interesting to think about or that there isn’t a great potential for exploration and discovery in that final frontier. What I am saying is that at this moment, with the dire consequences of man-made climate change looming just beyond our doorsteps, who the hell cares about space? It’s utterly irrelevant. Our continued attempts to send out rockets and satellites is not only worthless, it is exacerbating our impending doom here on Earth, by burning obscene amounts of fossil fuels.
Some of you might already be thinking, “But we’ve got to do these things so that we can live in space or on Mars once our planet has become uninhabitable.” Guess what? That’s fucking stupid. And perhaps even more importantly, impossible. Sure, if we had unlimited time and resources, I’m positive humanity would be able to live in space or on other planets. The hard truth that no one seems to be aware of or able to accept is: WE DON’T HAVE THAT KIND OF TIME.
I get so frustrated when I hear people discuss climate disasters and societal collapse as if it is a distant possibility that their grandchildren might have to deal with one day. What the absolute fuck is anyone even talking about? WAKE UP. WE are going to be the ones facing these things in just a few decades, if that. We’re are beginning to face them even now. And it’s only going to continue to get worse and accelerate as we proceed to ignore/compound the problem.
The last thing I’ll say is this: Say I concede to these irrational and unbelievable ideas that the human species will be able to completely migrate into space or Mars or whatever before we all die here on the Earth we’ve destroyed. There we are, sending off the last pieces of humanity into the cosmos as our Earth burns behind us, do you really think we’d be able to mentally and emotionally cope? I for one, will lie down and die with this planet, before I abandon it on a rocket ship.
WE ARE PART OF THE EARTH. Our outright denial of this fact is what got us to the destruction of the natural world in the first place, and it is what continues to keep us from doing what needs to be done to save it. As much as our species likes to pretend that we are separate from or even above other life forms, the Earth, and nature, it’s simply not true. We are inextricably intertwined with this environment that has always been our home. We are already collectively suffering from the comparatively mild separation our modern technologies have resulted in. Does no one else notice the correlation between humanity’s rapid self-isolation from the natural world and the dramatic increase in mental illness and dissatisfaction/frustration with life?
Whether you believe in divine intention or natural selection, we were made for this planet. Our very essence has been meticulously woven to thrive in these environments over billions of years. Isn’t anyone even going to consider the long-term effects of living apart from the Earth??? Haven’t we already learned enough times how even something seemingly innocuous that is contrary to our natural lives becomes corrosive to us eventually? Forgetting the mental/emotional toll, we already know the serious physical ailments that result from relatively short amounts of time spend beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.
I don’t know. I guess I’m just inconsolable on this topic. It is unimaginably disheartening to see just how little most of the world cares about the Earth. To even consider leaving it seems horrific and unacceptable to me, let alone being excited about it as most people seem to be. Not to mention the absolute disregard we humans have for all the other forms of life we are willing to let perish in our wake. It’s disgusting. It’s obscene. It’s unconscionable. I have never been more ashamed to call myself a human being.
Humanity is Hopeless
I haven’t had any faith in humanity for a very long time now. Yet somehow I continue to be surprised by just how loathsome and selfish the human race actually is. I really am at a loss as to what to do with myself at this point. Not only do I not believe it’s possible to save our species from the consequences of our actions, but I don’t even believe we deserve to be saved. At the very least, I’d like to believe that there is some form of greater justice in the universe that isn’t going to let us get away with all of the atrocities we have and continue to commit every day.
I am at a loss for words after the interview my coworker and I just completed this morning. After quarantining myself all weekend for what turned out to be nothing, I come into work to find the CPS worker on the case strolling into our office, maskless, sniffling and coughing. She proceeds, without any apology or shame, to talk about how she and her husband have been deathly ill for days on end. She had the nerve to laugh as she tells us about the body aches which she felt all the way down to her toenails. She might as well have wore a shirt that said fuck everyone who isn’t me and spit directly into our mouths. Despite my discomfort and embarrassment at having to do so, I handed her a mask and asked if she would please wear it. She consented thankfully, but what kind of world are we living in where I have to feel embarrassed and guilty to ask someone else to please do the absolute bare minimum to not risk the lives of others?! It’s sickening.
Not only were her actions completely reprehensible and inconsiderate to my coworkers and I, but the guardian for the child we spoke to today was a 62 year old woman. She literally might have killed that poor woman today. I suppose only time will tell. It’s people and situations like these that really make me want to just throw my hands up in the air and revoke my membership as a part of the human race. I’m truly ashamed to be a human being. I want to lie at the feet of all the other creatures of this planet and apologize until my last breath.
I’ve always wanted to make a difference in this world for the better. Even this blog was originally created with the intention of helping people find veganism and maybe contribute to some sliver of progress. I still think about ways I could use my time and energy to do something meaningful, but my hope and motivation disintegrate with the thought that always follows, “What’s the point?” It feels pretty futile to spend your time digging yourself out of a hole in the ground when you KNOW you’ll never make it, when you know your time could be just as well spent playing solitaire at the bottom of the pit instead. Why should I spend time making vegan resources or writing scholarly articles to inform people when the majority of the population can’t even seem to understand we breathe out of both our noses and our mouths? That a mask covering only your mouth is completely pointless?
I just can’t find the strength or the hope to continue on anymore. It is a bleak existence to have no future to look forward to, not only for myself personally, but for the entire globe. Why should I bother doing anything? This hopeless outlook is compounded by the baffling gaslighting I receive at every turn. It’s one thing to be gaslit by a spouse, friend, or family member, it’s quite another to be gaslit by the whole world. Maybe that’s the wrong term though. I think a gaslighter knows what they’re saying is bullshit. I really think people are too stupid or blind or afraid to admit the fate that soon awaits us all. And I get it, it’s too much for anyone to bear. Still, it would be nice to not have to bear it alone anymore.
Mother Earth’s Last Gasp
Nature is truly remarkable in its ability to adapt to ever changing conditions. Not only do individual species evolve, but the whole earth seems to shift and grow as time marches on to accommodate new creatures and circumstances and keep everything relatively stable. For a long time now it has seemed that human beings are some kind of wild aberration of nature, something that mother earth has no hope of adjusting to fast enough for our existence to be sustainable. Every now and then I’ll see something that gives me some form of dark hope for our planet though, some otherwise strange development in nature that no one seems able to explain. Just when I think mother earth has finally succumb to our brutality and greed, she surprises me with another clever innovation to overcome our destruction.
A few years ago on the news there was a lot of talk about a new species of tick. Apparently people who were bitten by this tick didn’t contract lyme disease or anything serious. No, this tick did something much more innocuous, yet important. It made its victims allergic to meat. I don’t recall how common this tick was or where about in the world it was located, but I remember at the time half-heartedly joking about procuring one of these little buggers to breed and systematically unleash on the world. If people couldn’t make the choice to go vegan to save the animals, themselves, and the planet, I would work hand in hand with mother earth to force them to. And I would have felt completely justified in doing so. Eating meat is one of those tricky “personal choices” that isn’t so personal when you realize the effect on others. It might be your choice to litter or pollute the water supply, but I doubt anyone would try to defend that as a right. (Even though pig farming is one of the biggest polluters of water ways.) But I digress.
I waited to see if anything would come of this miraculous little tick, but soon this news story faded into the background like so many others with little impact. Just yesterday though it occurred to me that mother earth may have a new trick up her sleeve with Covid-19. Ticks may not be capable of spreading around the globe very quickly, but a virus certainly can, especially this one. From the moment this pandemic started, I felt in my heart that it was nature’s immune system trying to rid it of another virus, us. Still, it made me wonder. After all, Covid is deadly, but not nearly as deadly as other illnesses that have sprung up in the past. No, it seemed as though Covid’s goal wasn’t explicitly to kill, but to spread quickly and over great distances.
One of the more peculiar symptoms of this virus has been the loss of taste and smell, particularly in that these senses often do not return after recovering from the virus. I recalled my coworker saying it wouldn’t be all bad to lose his taste. At least then he would be able to eat healthy with no qualms. I absentmindedly thought to myself, well maybe he’d even go vegan. (Not that vegan foods are not exceptionally delish, mind you. Meat eaters just assume they aren’t.) At this, I nearly jumped out of my chair at the poetic justice of it all. NO TASTE! THAT’S IT!
All of a sudden it felt as though I could hear the earth saying: Oh, fucking taste is the reason you continue to kill me? That stupid sensory pleasure is your excuse for slaughtering and consuming billions of animals every year, wasting my resources, and poisoning my environment? haha bacon tho? How about never tasting anything again? Maybe that will suit you better. If that’s what it takes to make you finally stop this madness.
One of the most frustrating parts of being a vegan is presenting all the important, essential reasons we must, as a species, change our diet if we hope to survive, and the unspeakable atrocities we commit every day by eating animals, only to be met with the counter argument, “but I like how meat and dairy taste.” It is absolutely infuriating and exasperating. It’d be like if we actively helped start and spread wildfires because “ooo, pretty.” It’s fucking stupid.
I am far too cynical to believe that the human race collectively losing its sense of taste would actually make people stop eating and abusing sentient beings. I am still curious to see what effect this will have on the human diet. It would be nice to imagine that with every last one of their already idiotic and irrelevant excuses gone, people would make the easy and obvious choice to adopt a vegan diet, but I have little hope of that happening. I’m sure everyone will just come up with some other illogical reason to continue on just as they are. Still it gives me hope to think that all is not lost. Mother earth hasn’t surrendered just yet. She is testing out new strategies all the time. Unfortunately we seem committed to forcing her hand and giving the unspoken ultimatum “kill us all or we will kill ourselves and everything there is.” I sincerely hope it does not come to that, but I’m not holding my breath for humans to change.
Juggling Gratitude and Fear
Lately I keep coming back to the realization that a lot of the luxuries I take for granted every day will soon be unavailable to me. Fresh produce from the store, peaceful morning drives to work, running water, hot showers, internet access, electricity, coffee, a healthy, pain-free body. Most of us have lots of precious moments like these every day that we don’t pay much attention to. Even if you don’t believe that the world is headed for catastrophe like me, it is still a shame that we don’t take the time to be grateful for the small moments of joy in our lives.
My issue is not so much that I don’t realize I need to be grateful for these things, it’s rather that it’s hard for me to avoid the fear that comes along with realizing that they are in fact luxuries I may not always have. My heart swells with panic instead of gratitude when I acknowledge that in a few short years I may be going to sleep hungry. I may be fighting just to stay alive, to keep my loved ones alive and safe. My mind tends to fixate on the negative, preventing me from enjoying where I am and what I have right now.
I don’t quite know how to reconcile the two sides of this coin. How can I remind myself that I am so privileged without dwelling on the fearful vision I have of the future without these comforts? As soon as I try to feel gratitude for the little things, I feel terror and dread instead. But I don’t want to continue sleepwalking through these “mundane” moments either. It is a constant struggle to try to balance the simple pleasures of my day to day life now with the nightmarish future to come. I’m afraid that my efforts to be more mindful are only resulting in me practicing fear and anxiety instead.
I am genuinely at a loss as how to address this issue. I’m not sure if trying to hold this in my awareness is actually worse for my mental health than continuing to take my many blessings for granted. It’s hard to feel grateful that you are not in physical or emotional pain without also contemplating the day that pain will come. If anyone else has experienced this dilemma, I would love to know your thoughts. Is there anything you have found helpful in handling these contradictory emotions? I would greatly appreciate any advice offered.