Following on from my blog about the butterflies on my fig tree and the dawning realisation that the climate catastrophe is happening, I took a moment before heading up to Scotland for the annual Mindsprings Autumn retreat to ponder the dissociation that arises when we think about it.
I’m sure there’s a part of you (as there’s a part of me) that thinks: oh, God, all that stuff about the climate is too depressing, I can’t read it right now, I’ll watch it later. And parlayed up on a mass scale, that sense of turning away is what has been afflicting us as humans for the past 50 years.
On the one hand since “Silent Spring” we have known the facts. We know the facts. But we don’t feel them.
There are some people who chose to wilfully distort the facts or deny the facts. And I can sort of empathise with them (even though it’s morally bankrupt) because the facts hurt. But in a strange way, since I have started to turn towards the reality of the situation, I actually feel more lively.
I think this is a result of dissociation.
It’s a subject that I have been fascinated in for the last 10 years. The human mind’s ability to simultaneously know and not know things about themselves or the situation they’re in.
Classically dissociation is the result of trauma. The mind choses to ‘exile’ experience out to the edges of consciousness where it is ‘known’ but not given any meaningful value. So, abused children can recall the appalling treatment they received but seem to attribute no significance to it. It is there and not there at the same time.
When the dissociated material makes a ‘return’ – that is when the mind starts to ‘re-associate’ with the reality, two things can happen. One, the whole system can go into a painful contacted melt-down, tying itself in knots to shut down the truth. Or two, there can be a very liberating inrush of energy back into the mind. It’s often painful and disorientating – like suddenly realising that you have two heads instead of one all these years – but the new reality is fresh and weirdly exciting.
That’s a little of what I’m feeling… We are living in the most significant of times and that is frightening and enlivening in equal measure.