I have spent every summer of my life on the Swedish west coast; on, in and by the water. Swimming, fishing, then more and more sailing, but sometimes just sitting on the dock watching nothing and everything.
A long time ago I thought that whatever would happen in the world, the ocean was bigger than anything mankind could affect. I imagined that the vastness of the deep sea was so immense that whatever humans did, this was beyond our reach. I was wrong.
This summer I have been out sailing, revisiting an island in the outermost part of the archipelago that I haven’t seen in decades. On the surface, it was as beautiful as I remembered it. The cliffs were still made from pink granite and the flowers were everywhere, hiding from the wind behind rocks and in crevices. The view of the open sea was breathtaking. Terns, bird that I seldom see nowadays, where fishing in the waters around the island.
So much beauty and tranquility that it took time to still the mind enough to open up the senses. I needed to immerse my myself in the moment, diving into my soul like I let my body dive into the still water for a morning swim.
But in the back of my mind, the feeling of almost gratitude of being in such a place was mixed with too much knowledge. So much is happening on and below the surface. The plastic invasion, visible everywhere along the coasts but also invisibly present in both birds and fish. Overfishing has taken its toll and on almost any island you will see signs of the omnipresent oil spills.
Even more hidden are the slow changes caused by our still increasing emissions of carbon dioxide that are changing the chemistry and life below water. And far beyond my view, the melting ice sheets on Greenland are spilling into the ocean, rising sea levels and creating havoc with both weather and ocean currents.
How to cope? How to handle these mixed feelings, both enjoy the moment and acknowledge the inevitable losses that will occur? Can I embrace and connect; not resign and become numb but transfer these feelings to the courage of resistance?
These questions seem to be lingering in the minds of everyone that really understands the implications of the climate and biodiversity breakdowns that we are heading into; with knowledge but without understanding. Many have shared their thoughts, among them @MaryHeglar. Her answer was love:
Of course this is something that some will shy away from and other will try to ridicule. “Love? That’s nothing that will drive growth” they will say. And their will be claims from (mostly) men of power that love is a sign of weakness. But the fights we will need to enter can not be driven by revenge and vengeance only, says Mary Annaise Heglar, we need to find our strength from within and together.
So I will try to save the moment on the island in my mind for the coming fall and winter, to use it as a grounding point in order to be ready for the hard work that lies ahead if we are to steer ourselves away from the business as usual disaster path we are on. It will be a hard struggle, overcoming both teh fossil fuelled powers and the inertia of those who have not yet realised that nobody will be sheltered if we allow the climate storm to reach its full strength.
We will need a lot of love to pull this through.
I made this video a few years ago. Soon the august nights will be dark enough to see the starlight again.