It Should Have Happened on a Mountaintop: My Winding Path to Environmental Activism (Part 7/10)

It Should Have Happened on a Mountaintop: My Winding Path to Environmental Activism (Part 7/10) May 19, 2016

pillars-of-creation-visible-inf-lightAfter all of that, what happened next really should have happened on a mountaintop or in a redwood forest. Instead, it happened in a movie theater, of all places. It wasn’t even a particularly good movie. I guess we don’t get to choose the time and place of our epiphanies. Of course, it didn’t happen in a vacuum. I had been primed for it by everything that had happened over the last year.

The climax of the movie, Lucy, was a Kubrick-esque montage of images in which the heroine connects with her ancestral primate past and then with the physical universe as whole. It triggered something in me, and as I walked out of the theater, I had an intense feeling of both our infinitesimal insignificance and our inestimable consequence as a species. I felt both of radical dissociation from the everyday concerns of my life and of deep responsibility to the Earth and to universe as a whole.

I also slowly became aware, over the coming days and weeks, that the ever-present anxiety about my own death was not so ever-present. I’m not saying I was suddenly careless when crossing the street, or that I was unconcerned about what would happen to my kids if I died prematurely. But I no longer experienced each moment like a stopwatch running backward. And I felt that one day I might actually be able embrace my own death.

I also noticed that the perpetual fear of not having enough was absent. I started to see how this sense of scarcity which had been my constant companion was an artificial creation of a sick system. Everything seemed different in this new light. I still went to work and paid my bills, but I did it with a new sense of detachment. The anxiety which had previously underlain all of my activities, all of my thoughts, had largely evaporated.

I wish I could say that I have held onto that vision, that I didn’t eventually lapse back into old patterns of thinking, old fears. But I can still feel it there, that sense of being a part of something so vast that my fears are dwarfed by it. I can feel the edges of it, waiting there to be reclaimed, and I can feel the fear loosen its grip on me again.

 To be continued …

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