Escapism, Realism, or Fatalism?

Escapism: stop watching the news, binge watch movies and TV series you missed in the past, and start reading all the books you should have read by now.

Realism: read the news and figure out what you could do to help, even though you know it’s just a drop in the bucket.

Fatalism: throw up your hands, assume we’re doomed, we’re toast, we’re past the tipping point, and party like it’s 1999.

Any way you look at it, the planet is convulsing. It’s burning, it’s flooding, it’s releasing methane not just from melting permafrost but from the rocks themselves.

What makes an apocalypse?

War (or sword or conquest), famine, pestilence (or plague or wild beasts), and death.

I think we’ve checked all the boxes.

So what do we do now?

I confess I regularly choose escapism. Between binging movies and finishing up comedy series I didn’t have time to watch before, I soothe myself with the unstoppable optimism of Ted Lasso. If you haven’t seen this series, it’s worth every penny and more of the Apple TV subscription.

I love Ted. There are blogs and twitter accounts devoted to his wit and wisdom.  Ted’s the guy who, when asked if he believes in ghosts, answers, “I do, but more importantly, I believe they need to believe in themselves.”

Ted inspires me to try harder on the “always be humble and kind” front.

I try to be realistic about what I can do. I’ve taken steps to reduce the size of my lawn. I planted a pollinator garden 5 years ago, the year Mike died. It replaced a section of lawn and a concrete walk. We had several monarch butterflies flitting about last summer, but only one this summer. Our big bumblebee (we call him our B52) was around for a while, and then, without my consent, someone in our “mosquito abatement district” sent a truck around a 3 a.m. spraying something that took out the mosquitos but is also fatal to bees. I’ve seen just one lonely firefly this summer, flashing his sad, hopeful light in the backyard.

It’s moments like that where I find myself sinking into fatalism. Huge parts of the globe are going to have to perform a “managed retreat” from coastlines and eroding cliff sides, and from island nations that are disappearing into the rising waters of a hotter, less salty sea. Parts of the middle east, the Indian subcontinent, Africa, and the American west are very close to becoming uninhabitable.,

The gulf stream is slowing, which is already creating havoc in northeast fisheries, and may portend that “winter is coming” for real for parts of North American and Europe.

And everyone in California seems to be in denial that the California dream they think they’ve been living is over, possibly for a thousand drought-ridden years to come.

The census shows more people moved to Arizona and Texas in the past 10 years. Where do they think they’ll find enough water? They’re sucking the Colorado river dry.

Millions of stinking dead fish are washing up onto Florida’s beaches because of red tides that are happening more often due to heat and agricultural pollution.

Every day this summer, even during long stretches with no rain, or humidity that keeps me in a constant state of sodden sweatiness, I thank God and my lucky stars that I live where I do – within 2 miles of a Great Lake, at the top of the tiny hill on my street, in an area with bountiful trees.

And then I start worrying about what will happen when all the people leaving their there want to make their there here.

A few minutes ago I went upstairs to lower the blinds and make sure the fans were set to “exhaust.” On my way to the stairs I noticed the fuchsia that hangs above our front porch. I managed to keep it alive inside all winter. I set it outside too early, thinking the cold nights were over. When it shriveled, I plucked off its dying parts, sweet-talked the few remaining tiny green leaves, and begged it not to die.

I gave it a little fertilizer (something I rarely use, but I needed it this year because I didn’t have enough compost to fill my new raised beds) and watered it faithfully.

And when I walked past it today, I noticed it had bloomed.

I’ll add “optimism” to my list of “isms.” Maybe there’s hope. If that plant can pull through with a little love and care, perhaps the Earth can, too, with love and care from all of us.

Finding a glimmer of hope in a hanging basket, I remain,

Your alternately news-reading, obsessing, escaping, lawn-reducing, pollinator garden planting, fuchsia saving, minutely hopeful,


Forest fire image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

5 thoughts on “Escapism, Realism, or Fatalism?

  1. Love this blog. Hope is not the same as wishful thinking. It is faith in the invisible possibilities we are too limited to perceive. We cannot know exactly what the future will bring and how different the planet will be to sustain human existence even as we stop denying just how much havoc we are wreaking. I love that your fuchsia responded to your diligent care. Fuchsia by fuchsia, may we do our best to care for what is in our power to affect with hopeful action.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Judi. Just read and enjoyed your piece on anniversaries and love. Here’s hoping everyone at Kendall stays well and this latest round of soul-sucking retreat from the virus is well and truly over soon and for good.

      Liked by 1 person

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