#2182

Embracing Apocalyptic Fatalism, or:  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

There’s no point in beating around the bush by crafting a poetic opening statement, so I’ll just say this as bluntly as possible: the world is fucked. We’re simultaneously dealing with climate change, mass extinction, deforestation, mass shootings, bigotry, war, political corruption, deadly diseases, genocide, poverty, famine, terrorism, potential nuclear annihilation, totalitarianism, and fascism, and those are just the things that came to my mind in like thirty seconds. Each of those topics has an overwhelming number of smaller but equally horrible subtopics which might come spilling out like maggots from a carcass if you poke the wrong spot with a stick.

…I’m not really selling you on this particular essay, am I. Okay, forget the roadkill analogy and just focus on the fact that we – “we” being almost any living creature on the planet with more than a single cell – are pretty fucked. The last few years have shed an especially harsh light on the course of humanity’s future as we’ve watched history repeat itself in ways we thought would never happen again. Genocide? Still happening. Putting people in concentration camps? Yep, that too. Racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-semitism? Alive and doing very well for themselves. Actual, literal Nazis? Fuckin’ everywhere. What I’m saying is, here at the pinnacle of human achievement we’re still struggling with the toxic byproducts of a fanaticism that seems inherent to our very species. We destroy everything we touch.

So how do we cope with this? How do we go about our day knowing that at any moment there are people being killed for their beliefs, billions of animals trapped in factory farms, ancient Amazonian trees being bulldozed and burned? It’s really fucking hard, I know, and everyone copes differently. Some people find energy in being angry; some sink into depression; others dedicate every hour they possibly can to signing petitions and attending rallies. But if none of those options are working for you in the long term, good news! I’m here to tell you about my new life philosophy: apocalyptic fatalism!

What’s apocalyptic fatalism, you ask? It’s the belief that we as a species have gone past the point of no return, meaning we have little to no chance of stopping the issues listed above – especially, at least in my humble opinion, climate change and its associated Bad Shit. Apocalyptic fatalism means we’re fucked, and that we fucked over every other living thing too. It means accepting the world (as we know it, at least) may actually end in our lifetimes. It doesn’t purport to know the how of things, only that the when is much closer than we’d like to believe. We are in trouble now.

If you’ve never heard about apocalyptic fatalism, that’s because I made it up!

See, in the two years since Trump (*gag*) was elected, I’ve tried coping. Anger only works for me in short bursts, though, and the well of depression is already up to my chin. Part of me wants to hide in apathy, but I’m too empathetic to ignore all the living creatures suffering right now. So anger is fleeting, depression is dangerous, and apathy is a betrayal. What I have instead found long-term comfort in is… acceptance. Acceptance that humanity is a cancer on this planet, no matter how much good we do on an individual level. Acceptance that we might really have gone too far this time, and maybe now there’s no going back. Acceptance, in short, that we might have already started the apocalypse and on an individual level there’s not much we can do to stop it. Doesn’t that lift a weight off your shoulders? Think about it; our generation doesn’t have to save the world because it can’t be saved in the first place. We can only do damage control on the way down.

That’s horrible! you’re probably thinking. How can you give up like that? That makes you part of the problem! But that’s the bittersweet beauty of this philosophy: it’s not about giving up. You don’t have to stop being a force of good in the world just because you know your efforts won’t change everything for everyone. You can do good for good’s sake, make a difference on the micro scale instead of the macro, all you want. But when those little bits of good get overshadowed by all the horrible things you have literally no ability to stop, apocalyptic nihilism tells you it’s okay to let them go. If you have to buy a plastic water bottle one day, it’s okay; your one guilty purchase is nothing compared to what those in power are doing to the environment. If you buy something to lift your mood instead of donating that money to a charity in need, that doesn’t make you an inherently bad person contributing to the downfall of humanity. The world is ending – buy the damn book, eat the damn doughnut, use a damn plastic fork once a year. It’s okay. Your guilt and anxiety help no one.

Read that again. Your guilt and anxiety help no one. Apocalyptic fatalism frees you from the responsibility of saving the whole damn world, a burden millennials and Gen Y/Z have felt acutely since birth. We inherited a shitstorm and we know the generation before us doesn’t, for the most part, really care about the future. In fact, they seem determined to fuck it up as much as possible. We feel, therefore, that it’s up to us to save the oceans and the national parks and the atmosphere and human rights and freedom and science and… the list goes on and on. But you know what? We didn’t start this war and we can’t end it.It’s just too big. It’s just too entrenched. So do what you can for the world – but take care of yourself too. If the end is extremely fucking nigh, then every moment is unbelievably precious. Don’t waste them worrying.

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#2180

I am no wanderer. I feel no desire to travel far from home, to visit foreign lands or step foot on other continents. I am happy in the same state, the same rainy peninsula, the same ten mile radius of forest and water where I grew up and which I still call home. This place is where I want always to return at the end of the day and I ask no more than that. As I said, I am no wanderer. I am no wanderer, yet the land around me has changed so that I feel lost in this alien landscape. Forests razed to make way for shopping centers; picturesque waterfront blocked by million-dollar homes. Storefronts sit empty while commercial building continues to churn out box stores and parking lots and cheap cookie-cutter housing. The nights aren’t as dark, the stars aren’t as bright. Every season seems hotter and drier than the one before. Where am I? I did not leave my home, yet neither do I recognize this place.

#1923

We anthropomorphize what we do not understand and deify what we fear. Perhaps, therefore, I should call this terror and awe Cascadia and give it a name, a form, a realm to rule. Grand Cascadia, She Who Slumbers Uneasily, She Who Builds Mountains and Destroys Cities. Ancient Cascadia, who sleeps beneath the earth’s crust and whose every toss and turn rattles the land above. Cruel Cascadia, whose laughter stirs tsunamis, whose anger detonates stratovolcanoes and sends shockwaves of destruction through two thousand miles of rock and earth. I see her body made of the fine silt of the ocean floor; her eyes glow the hot white of magma; her hair is ash and smoke and seaweed and minerals. She is a uniquely Pacific Northwest goddess, one link in the great ring of fire through which she and her sisters transform the world.

It is tempting, I’ll admit, to hand the fear of what I cannot control over to a deity I can at least implore. I could light red candles in her honor and leave her offerings of seashells, saltwater, Mt. St. Helens ash. Beneath her altar I could store flashlights and emergency rations. I could write songs and poems for her, about the people she has killed already and those she will kill in the future. I could, I could, I could – but what good would it do? Even if Cascadia were a true goddess, she would not be swayed by offerings or pleading. She would be something more terrifying than Kali and more uncontrollable than Sekhmet, something that gloried in death even more than Inanna or the Morrigan. There would be no appeasing her. She would only sleep, wake, slaughter, and sleep to wake and kill again. All the prayer in the world could not reckon with her, and when she next wakes her death toll will be in the hundreds of thousands.

Sleep, Cascadia. Sleep.

#1880

yesterday the anger was
a molten core, pressure building
praying for eruption

today the depression is
a granite pluton hard and cold
yielding to erosion

maybe Yellowstone will redeem us
before we can do too much damage;
you know, wipe the slate clean, hit restart on
this whole “life” business

foolish man, to think nature
does not always hold the trump card;
they ignored the signs in Pompeii too
but hey, at least they’re famous

turn to geology on your deathbed
it is the only science that can save you

#1835

when the storm surges and the waves crash, I will be your rock, I say
and you reply, but rock erodes until it’s no longer recognizable as what it once was
I do not argue, because that is true; even stone is not eternal

but you forget I have studied the earth, its cycles, its processes
and so I know that while stone is not eternal, its matter is
and can neither be created nor destroyed

if your storms weather me, I will become sand on the ocean floor
and perhaps from there the earth will push me up against the land
or perhaps drag me deep beneath its melting crust

either way I will transform, become a mountain once again
and when the wind and rain and time begin to carve me away
I will welcome that change as I welcome yours

#1755

all is
still
still
still
and
then
with
out
warning
the earth awakes
in violent tremors, roaring
cacophonous subterranean thunder
buildings swaying
bridges buckling, overpasses shuddering
concrete crumbles
brick collapses in clouds
of red dust like the skies of Mars
glass shatters and power lines topple
while beachfronts slough off into white-capped water
and it seems to go on forever, minutes becoming an eternity
while the world shakes and quakes and destructs
like nothing Chicken Little ever could
have expected, the sky is falling
the sky is falling
and in the aftermath
nothing is untouched or
unharmed and yet
somehow
the earth
still manages
to go
still
still
still
again
(but
for
how
long?)

#1712

.
a
grain of
sand is pushed
upward by the wind
and joins its fellows to
form a great desert sand dune
which in time turns to bright sandstone
all reds and golds and oranges
which in time weathers down
from wind and rain
to a single
grain of
sand
.
.
a
grain of
sand is pushed
upward by the tide
and joins its fellows to
form a beach and then hills
which in time are pushed into mountains
looming tall above the ocean shores
which in time weather down
from wind and rain
to a single
grain of
sand
.