For my initial forty years on Earth, I was an unrepentant idealist.
Surrounded by students I loved, pursuing a life of excellence rooted in inquiry, striving to serve humanity and the living planet, I cared about humans and other species to the point of heartbreak. I pinned my dreams on people and believed they would rise to the occasion.
No more. Color me cynical in the spirit of comedian George Carlin, who died in 2008: “Scratch any cynic and you will find a disappointed idealist.”
Perhaps paradoxically, however, I view awareness as a gift. As a result, I continue to bear witness to the horrors of industrial civilization, fully knowing my words bring despair to myself and others.
Accepting our mortality as a gift is hardly a new idea. Social critic Jonathan Swift poignantly described the horrors of immortality in 1726 in Gulliver’s Travels. Many other writers have subsequently joined the fray. Contemporary American poet Mary Oliver points out: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
Our own death is a gift for several reasons, most notably because it means we get to live. Let’s live. In the spirit of seizing the moment, let’s live now. In the spirit of re-localization, let’s live here now. Indeed, let’s fully embrace living here now.
— Guy McPherson, Transition Voice