Sometime, in the last decade of the old century
In a beautiful northern land, a young woman reflects upon her life and marvels at the many blessings that have come her way. She longs to have a child with whom to share her awe at standing in the majesty of the snow-capped mountains, her delight at skipping bare feet on the sandy shores at low tide, and her joy at seeing the orcas frolicking in the strait. She wants the child’s early years to be as carefree as hers were, spent running wildly through the sugarcane fields of a different land, and climbing way up high in the mulberry tree.
A little girl comes home from school with sadness written on her face. Her mother asks her what is wrong. Has someone been mean? Was the teacher too harsh?
“Mummy, the fishes are dying. We learned that at school today”.
Oh, make it not so. Make it that the teacher was telling them a story, about a different time, about a different place. What a heavy slice of sadness and guilt, served up to burden the short happy days of youth.
The little girl is looking all grown up these days, just starting high school.
At the dinner table, she relates that today her new teacher has taught that her generation will not live as long as her mother’s; because of all the pollutants, theirs will be the first generation in human history to have a shorter lifespan than its predecessor.
And so, another slice of despair is served up.
And the mother wonders what will happen to a generation, raised to the sad song of a planet at the brink of the sixth mass extinction, and weaned on images of death.
She wonders if there can be any other vision for our future, or is our tale all told?
She looks into the face of her generation, and reads the story in its clouded eyes. Money worries, rush, commute, toil in service to another’s dream, mortgage payments, fiscal cliff … exhaustion ... grab a coffee ... take a look at the bills ... line of credit, insurance, car, phone, lights, gas, cable, credit card, internet ... payments ever rising …. Grab a beer … price at the store, price at the pump ... ever rising. No time, no energy left, for big pictures and grander goals.
Tell the kids to take a student loan so that they can claim their due inheritance and climb aboard the wheel that never stops turning, by starting out their young lives in indentured servitude and marching to a beat that is not from their own drum.
Is this our best wish for our children, to mimic their parents and sell their souls?
A long time ago, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living." But where is the will to examine, in those who have been diverted to distraction?
The mother and her daughter tour the dwelling of a local man who has examined his life and seized the day. They see his hand-hewn house, see his waterwheel that turns on the lights, gaze upon the coiled marvel that sits in the sun and heats his tub, and hear the whirr of the wind that cooks his dinner.
The crowd gathers close, silent and wide-eyed, to hear tell of these magical inventions that capture the gifts of the elements. The light shines in the eyes of the old men, young again with talk of tinkering and the faces of youth are keen and filled with hope.
The mother takes a walk in the Garden of Eden, and strolls the labyrinth of magnificent verdancy; takes tea with friends among the smiling sunflowers and the colourful bounty, to the flutter of butterflies, the serenade of honey bees, and the great burp of the earth made resonant in the croak of the frog.
The universe is awash in magic for those who would open their hearts.
Dr Neil Turock, theoretical physicist, has this to say. “The world is not made up of particles and waves and beams of light with a definite existence. Instead, the world works in a much more exploratory way. It is aware of all possibilities at once and trying them out all the time. That is the hard thing to picture.”
The earth is giving up her mysteries to inspire us to dream new dreams, and to summon fresh visions of the very ways in which we might choose to live. From every corner of the globe, bright ideas are being put forward, new ideas, and some old ideas made new again.
It is up to each one of us to draw a line in the sand and look forwards instead of backwards.
It is time to write a new story.
The mother thinks back to something she read a while ago.
At the cottage in Muskoka, at the end of each summer, the family tradition was the “sinking of the cans”. The excited grandchildren would gather up all the empty cans that had accumulated over the summer months, and load them into the boat. Then, with grandmother at the helm, they’d motor out into the middle of the lake. There they dumped the cans in weighted sacks and watched them sink slowly to the bottom of the lake to rest for all eternity.
The grandmother later reflected that they just didn’t think about it. They just didn’t think.
Sunshine Coast in Transition is part of a global network that inspires us all to imagine and create a vibrant future that has alternatives to fossil fuels. We embrace building local resilience which is ecologically sustainable while nurturing and celebrating our community.
We welcome everyone to share in the dream of making the Sunshine Coast a beacon of hope, with neighbour helping neighbour, sharing long-forgotten skills, or joining in the excitement of tinkering with a new tomorrow.
May we dine on the bounty of our own backyards, may we trap the sun and catch the rains, may we raise a glass of blackberry wine to toast the day, and may we silence forever the constant roar of our dreaded ribbon highway. May the goals we set be in the cause of worthy aims.
Let each of us wake, with free spirit, as a bird, to heed what beckons to us from the day.
Ways to learn more:
• Watch the movie “In Transition 1.0”, available free at transition-movie
• Please visit our newly launched website at sunshinecoastintransition
• Watch for notices of our upcoming events, in the new year
• For more information about the global transition movement, visit www.transitionnetwork.org
A gem to celebrate this month:
• Tokelau, a territory of New Zealand, becomes first to meet all its electricity needs with solar energy.