Spoiled

Things just don't seem to be flowing at the moment. I had intended to cycle in this morning but still not feeling that great I decided to put it off a day and use this Monday to take spare clothes in on the train. But I prevaricated a bit too long, ended up running to the station and contrived to pull my ever fragile calf muscle in the process. It was thoughts of doing that very thing which was one of the reasons for not racing yesterday. My whole body just feels rather brittle at the moment.

I'm trying to be honest in this journal so it's important to record the bad stuff as well as the good stuff. I've not been in the best of moods at the office. And now I've just missed the train home. I didn't allow enough time for a steady walk to the station and got on the platform just as the beeper was going for the doors to close. Normally I'd have run and jumped on but I wasn't prepared to risk that. The doors closed in my face. I'm therefore sitting in the waiting room writing what will likely be a longer than normal entry. I'm currently being driven mad by the new automatic doors opening and closing seemingly at random, staying open too long and letting the cold air in. Everything is getting to me today. Why do they feel there is a need to install automatic doors? This is actually a lovely old space at Shipley station, very elegant with a big domed roof, but the peace and quiet is now continually being interrupted by the drone of the motors that power the doors. It may have been done with good intention for reasons of disabled access but in this moment it feels completely inappropriate. It's functioning as a symbol for a world gone mad.

I was going to post a different shot today but this one is far more representative for the journal. I've been thinking a lot about our consumer society since watching "Chasing Ice" on Saturday evening and how incredibly spoiled we are. Our expectations are unsustainably high. I'm now home and I'm copying something that I wrote over 25 years ago. It's mainly to serve as a wake-up call to myself - to put things into proper perspective. I have bigger things to be concerned about than not being able to run for a while. One part of me thinks it is rather overwrought (I was rather young and evangelical at the time) but another part of me wants to go screaming these words from the rooftops. After watching that film and seeing the way climate change is accelerating beyond our power of prediction and way beyond our power of control, I'm not going to feel any embarrassment about this piece of writing.


I picture the Earth as a raft, afloat in a great black sea. For too long we have hacked and torn away at the timbers of our raft to fuel our insatiable appetite for 'things'. The superstructure is breaking up. Holes are appearing. Our raft is beginning to leak. Water is coming in. We clearly need to change our pattern of living. We have to start conserving the essential timbers that form the very body of our world. That world is not infinitely exploitable. We cannot carry on destroying the fabric of our own life-support system. Now, it happens that the solution is quite straightforward, and really not that painful. We just have to accept the need to lead a simpler, more creative, less consumptive way of life. And a more committed way of life. We each need to spend just a little of our time each day baling the water out from our raft. This is our global responsibility.

But we are not yet taking this responsibility upon ourselves. We continue to strip the superstructure of our raft to fuel our material progress, and at an ever faster rate. And very few people are bothering to help bale. We somehow persuade ourselves that our individual effort will make so little difference as to be worthless. There is so much water, and our individual buckets are so small. Baling would be a waste of time. Wouldn't it? We decide that we have more important things to do with our time. Like watching television. And so our raft carries on letting in ever more water, through ever more holes.

The analogy is terrifyingly close to the reality. The seas are rising on us. Our great cities are threatened with a submarinal future. Does this bring us to our senses? No. We are too inured to apathy. Too entrenched in our traditional ways. Too snugly embraced in the comfort of our boredom. Too much in love with our material vanities. With the water around our feet, and rising, we are still to be found hacking and tearing away at the timbers of our raft. The very real fear is that we will awake from our insanity too late. We will open our eyes to find the water around our necks. Our raft will be sinking. Or perhaps the water will only be around our knees. The holes would still be irreparable, but we might have a chance of survival. If we wanted to survive that is. Survival on these terms wouldn't amount to a whole lot of fun. We would be required to spend the best part of each day just baling to keep the raft afloat, and you can imagine all the squabbles that would break out over that. It's a wretched prospect.

Yet, as things stand today, this is just the kind of dystopian future that we are going to be leaving for our children. I can hear their voices. Angry voices. Resentful voices. "They were insane," I hear them cry. "They knew so much; how come they understood so little, how come they had so little vision?" I hear voices of despair. "How could they have sat by and let this happen?" I hear voices of hatred. "How could they have raped their own mother?"


Hamilton, Robert (1990). Earthdream. Green Books.

Comments New comments are not currently accepted on this journal.