By Shaun Day-Woods
“More foul weather coming” the headline read.
It was an announcement for rain. Lots of it. Recent heavy rainfall, historic by some accounts, had flooded some low lying areas and washed away important connecting highways between major cities and surrounding towns. Predictably some people panicked and gathered more than their fair share of necessities - hoarding gasoline for instance. Apparently all of the meat in some grocery stores was bought quickly, leaving only the tofu products sitting in the cooler shelves. I don’t know if this says something about the types of people who hoard - that they aren’t vegans - or illuminates the reality that on a primal level, when instincts are awakened, we recognize that fake meat is just that.
To my mind the impact of the recent weather storms highlighted our cultures’ utter lack of resilience. It revealed it’s complete reliance on the Market and a vague trust in the competency of an elite - political and economic- to properly manage our lives. After all, the main “devastation” was primarily a disruption of the movement of commodities ( things we buy and sell) and of citizens (obedient producers and consumers of said commodities). If we had sensible small-scale lives based in healthy habitats that we maintained as part of our life ways, we wouldn’t be very affected by a couple of washed out roads. But we rely on insanely complicated, planetary systems to deliver us not only useless junk produced by exploited labour and without care for the environment, but our food and medicine and other items reasonably described as necessities.
Wouldn’t we be more resilient if we stopped relying on global systems and elites and just got together in manageable sized groups - islands, clans, neighbourhoods, villages, etc - and arranged for the production or harvesting of most of the things we want and need, especially food? Then storms would be welcomed and recognized for their proper role in ecological systems - as regenerative forces - as well as for their many lessons and messages.
When I was young one of my favourite experiences was to take long walks in snowstorms. I just loved every second of them - clearing my mind, feeling empowered by successfully drawing on my strength to counter the intense cold and wind and connected to these powerful forces of nature. I would walk for so long that time would disappear and I would find myself yelling through the blizzards to the snow and wind as though they were life forces of their own, the passions of earth acting upon the stage of my small existence. My face would turn red and swell, my feet and hands nearly freeze. It was exhilarating!
Sometimes it seemed as though these great storms were, in a way, coming from within me, an expression of the true potential dimensions of my own feelings and emotions and passions. I am the storm! Or at least there is no separation between us.
I eventually moved to the Pacific NorthWest of Turtle Island. It’s a temperate rainforest and is quite mild. I’ve always missed those powerful snow storms I grew up with. In the meantime I seek out the shorelines when wild tempests blow in from the ocean and dangerous waves crash against the dark, jagged rocks. “HI NEPTUUUUUUNE!”
I know that even the jagged rocks are alive, in their own way. That if spirits exist, they likely dwell within everything. My two favourite ones are Mystery and Surprise, for they make life worth living. If all is predictable, then we live in either a lab or a prison.
Let’s take another look at this notion of foul weather, at the urging of each other to close ourselves off from storms, to dread the most feverish and intense of Earth's most exciting and impassioned expressions. I reject the idea that the cowering and the fear are natural. They aren’t. They result from identifying with and adapting to a system rather than to nature.
I urge us to embrace all of the wildest weather forms - the passions, the mysteries and the surprises of earth, the manifestations of Chaos and the Unknown - and also to let our own thunder out, to shake the worlds we live in with our own passionate events.
I want to head toward a world without commodities made by exploitation and the plunder of nature, then carried to market on dangerous, hellish highways, heartlessly engineered and blasted through the delicate habitats of countless life forms and spirits. Let’s live simpler, more intimate and communal lives where the complexities are in our inward journeys and social relationships, in the deep knowledge of our surroundings and not in vulnerable systems prone to constant crisis and catastrophic collapse.
The next time you are warned of foul weather and wild storms, why not put on your boots, raincoat and hat, and go out there, into the holy churches of shorelines and forests, and laugh and scream and commune with the gods and goddesses for a few moments.
And if we want social regeneration, if we want healing and new beginnings, then we will need to let our own passions explode and thunder and, ultimately, blow over the pillars of normalcy. Let’s welcome the storms of Gaia.
Original photos by Joelle Baird