If you know me, you know that there’s a 73% chance – at any given point in time – that I will be a ball of anxiety. You would also know that I’m a Statistics graduate, so I don’t make up the numbers. and that I write only in two scenarios – when I’m being told to, or when I’m despairing. This time it’s both.
The anxiety has found new reasons for popping up out of the blue. It was in March 2018 that there was a blip in the water supply of my locality. I frantically texted my friend from a few houses down to check up on the situation, and ended up voicing my concern about the possibility of water wars, troubling her (and others) with my doomsday fears for the next year and a half, until she told me to write this article and let it out. “I want you to write about what you told me, that the climate crisis terrifies you. It’s an important and ignored aspect. Writing about the effect on the world is old,” she told me. That’s how far down the line we are, I guess.
Of course, talking about even our individual feelings of doom is nothing new. The multitude of memes speaks to it, among other things. We’ve managed to joke through our collective knowledge of The End to such an extent that any response other than empathy and solidarity with my fears befuddles and almost enrages me. Yet, oddly enough, it’s not doomsday that I’m terrified of. Truth be told, it’s almost welcome. It’s the knowledge that it will be a slow and painful crawl till there that really gets to me. A slow burn, if you will.
Every time I’m happy with the weather, I have to take a moment to assess whether it’s meant to be that way, that particular time of year. I shudder every time I read about water scarcity. The impending rise in the frequency of natural disasters is the stuff of nightmares. The self-care that I so diligently rely on for sanity will cease to exist, in due course of time. Where will our safe spaces be, mentally or physically? We’re not getting an apocalypse so easily, in case you were fine (and delighted) with the idea of the grand finale of this freak show occurring much ahead of schedule. In fact, regardless of the stage of coping that you’re on, I see a dampener of contentment at every single one. We’re building up to more chaos, the standstill is still out of reach.
I have reason to believe that this sentiment is universal and not just something in my head. Well, in the non-literal sense, at least. It’s hard enough getting many to believe that the climate crisis is real, but I’d like to go a step further and say that climate grief is real too. We’re mourning the loss of our world as we know it. It’s the helplessness of knowing what’s coming and not having a way to steer clear of it through individual action.
My sister tells me that we’ll cross the bridge when we come to it, and to get on with my Master’s applications in the meantime. My friend tells me to ignore everything and thrive blindly in my microcosm – something I actually have the privilege of doing. Do people get it? It’s hard. It’s hard to go about work as usual when there’s a mass extinction of resources and creatures bearing down on us. It’s paralysing, to say the least. I mean, what good can my number-crunching do if it isn’t fast restoring the world we live in? If there ever was a time for me to identify as a nihilist, now is probably it.
In all honesty, I’m out of hope and action. I’ve given up and resigned to our collective fate, even as I fail to look past the personal. I guess, as a kid, I always believed that nothing would go wrong just as long as I closed the taps and switched off the lights. Now I realise that I’ve lived years with a false sense of control, and that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t know if I can push through the disconcerting calm and complacency. I don’t know if I want to. It might be too little, too late.
Sometimes, I feel like taking a day off just to scream. Just to round up all the corporations and yell at them for polluting the oceans and the air, at the politicians for turning a blind eye to it, and at all the people still having children in a world that might not be feasibly habitable in the not-so-distant future. Then, with the energy I’d have left, I’d shout at everyone invalidating how incredibly real the feeling of terror is.
I haven’t done justice to my Statistics degree, have I? I have no numbers and graphs for you. I have emotion and no facts, and I’m very aware of the cranky lethargy I might be channeling. Maybe that’s the point of writing this, to seek an antidote to this despondency, to balance out crippling emotion with logic-driven movement, to find hope and romanticise the future that seems more and more like a non-possibility. I know I’m not alone in this.
Although I’ve never been one to respond well to a casually thrown “You’re not the only one!” or “Everyone’s going through it, everyone’s got problems,” right now I feel like it might be the only thing I might find solace in – that we are all, for better or for worse, in this together.