Restless. My spirit is restless.
My brain is wired to make and do a thousand decisions today, and every day – and write another thousand emails while I’m at it.
My environmental news archive nearly exceeds 2,000 links, and yet my to-read list is about as long as the continental divide. I’m writing poetry. I’m writing 27-page essays about climate change and nuclear contamination. I’m reading, I’m writing, and I’m learning – and writing some more about my learning.
I used to think I could only be an academic, a researcher of science and make and do my living at university. But my naive longing for simplicity, for singularity in purpose, was just a fantasy I let myself believe in during the doldrums of summer. I’m too restless, too eager to learn all there is to learn and get my hands dirty while I’m at it. I could never wrestle with one string of questions – and strive my whole working life for those answers – with satisfaction. My curiosity cannot be quite that contained.
Because in my line of work, we are increasingly running out of time. Perhaps this is where I derive my urgency and haste from: the eruption of our beloved planet. Warming temperatures, record flooding, record drought, ever more carbon dioxide infiltrating the atmosphere, habitats destroyed, species eradicated, food and water insecurity heightened, and conflict increasing.
But with all of this information, I am struggling to place myself along this continuum of communication. Where do my skills take me? Where can my voice be of the most service? Whom can I convince? To whom will it matter the most?
I started off as an environmental journalist, before I realized that journalism school was a lot more Twitter analytics than climate change politics. So I diverged and decided to learn some more about the world around me.
I decided that I wanted to become part of the narrative instead of writing about it behind a third wall.
I then moved into academic researcher mode, where my enthusiasm and love for learning could be entertained on a daily basis. That was before I spent some time in the real world, and realized that I count down the days until the end of each semester (but doesn’t everyone?) and those blessed three-day weekends.
I’ve been teetering back and forth between environmental justice and climate change activism, because our political and economic systems are failing a society we know is unsustainable. But can shouting buzzwords and one-sided slogans truly change consciousness? I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s too simple for me, too.
I’ve flirted with international diplomacy and policy analysis. I’ve grappled with the strengths and challenges of non-profits and social enterprises. I’ve even considered going completely off-grid and living a life as a mountaineer adventurer.
Basically, I don’t know what I’m doing with the rest of my life, but I’m enjoying the days and the experiences that I have in the moment.
Now that we have a new President-Elect, my future environmental services career is all the more murky. I like to laugh about the notion of making my own career – Hey, I made my own degree! – but even pinning down what I would do (singularly? concretely?) is still too whimsical, even for me.
But for the sake of record-keeping, I’ll tell you what I’d do.
I’d travel, not just the world, but my country that is sorely grieving. I’d discover new places and people and wilderness, uncover stories and knowledge about the way climate change is affecting them, right here right now. I’d grieve and sing and smile with them, too.
I’d create digital artwork – photography, film, online visuals – that represent the stories and the people that I have seen. It’d be compelling and revealing, and altogether irreplaceable in this rapidly changing time and place. I would inspire change, however small.
I’d write about my journeys, infusing my own voice and beliefs and insight into the stories. I’d muse and I’d marvel – kind of like I did in Cambodia – and uncover little bits of truth about myself, and the world around me, while writing, always writing.
I’d continue to write poetry, to allow myself the time and space to write essays and compilations of my thoughts along the way. Always producing something. Always reading more. Always asking deliberate and thoughtful questions. Always creating art and imagery. Always sharing my insight with those seeking understanding.
I’d fight for what I believe in, no more and no less. I’d stand my ground. I’d be a fierce, adventurous woman. I’d be brave, not fearless. Brave enough to speak my mind, and to explore all that there is still to learn. I’d be a force unstoppable, strong enough to shake consciousness when it comes to our common ground, our home.
And maybe, just maybe, I already am.
Until next month,
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