You Can Sleep When You're Dead (is horrible advice)
Until a few weeks ago, I’d never missed a week of MVP. I do not miss deadlines, even self-administered ones. But I’ve been felled by a tonsil rebellion, and it’s given me a lot of time to lie still and think about things, and not swallow. In between falling asleep to the reductionist but deeply appealing podcast Revisionist History, I’ve been thinking about the process of slowing down. How dooeees one dooooo it? For me, slowing down has thus far meant scheduling only five activities per weekend instead of six. When I was 20 and living in London, I went to Dublin, ran a marathon, and flew home an hour later. I took my high school English teacher’s dictum to heart: you can sleep when you’re dead. Part of the logic is that life is so busy and there’s so much to do, there’s no point letting up. I’m taxed just doing the basic minimum that life demands, so why not go full overscheduled enchilada and layer in the things I enjoy? As you can see, this logic makes no sense. Perhaps that’s why my tonsils have decided they don’t want to reside inside me anymore.
But how do I reconcile the need for urgent climate action (speed is the key, all the experts say!) with the need to slow myself down? My modest goal this month has been to attend an Extinction Rebellion dance blockade, and twice I’ve found myself sick in bed when I was meant to be inhabiting an intersection in a unitard. I’m ever restless to do more, even as I’m physically able to do less. As the political stakes grow increasingly precarious — we are within the margin of error of electing a climate denier here in Canada — I feel a palpable sense of helplessness. I want to scream climate from the top of my roof until all the racoons in the neighbourhood gather on the shingles. But my body has other ideas.
In many ways this temporary feeling of incapacity has only emphasized the powerlessness I regularly feel, but in so doing it’s reaffirmed the central thesis of this newsletter: Doing things — however small, on a regular basis, for the sake of people and planet — is important. Tautological? Perhaps, and yet I can’t repeat it enough.
As I get back to normal life, I’m trying to add back only the absolute essentials, like work, sandwiches, and dance parties. But I now realize climate action is part of my essentials list. It needs to be scheduled in, like a dentist appointment or a hip-hop class or a hip-hop class with my dentist. It needs to be there regularly, beyond the writing and the thinking and the petition signing, because it is necessary for my health. Unlike my tonsils.
My goal is to plan these actions, with slow and measured certainty. My goal is to move things around so I do less of the inessential, and more of the planetarily necessary. Unitarding my way across a thoroughfare demands strength I don’t have at the moment, but seeing this activity scheduled in my calendar gives me the inspiration to get there. Look at the lady in the sequin shorts. Just watching her makes me happy, and gives me life!
How do you remain healthfully slow when we’re bombarded with the need for Immediate! Urgent! Action!? What climate action can you schedule into your life? As always, LMK!
Did you talk climate? How did it go? Proof that we need more TALKING…Emily Atkin explores the absolute ridonkulousness of this in today’s Heated. Worth a read!
Have a wonderful week in this beautiful world!
Thank you for reading. As always, send me thoughts on how I can make this better to firstname.lastname@example.org