Fires run raging and ragged in the land across The Tasman. Animals have lost their lives and their lands. People have lost their homes and their geographic heritage. We all can’t seem to see the fire for the smoke.
Meanwhile, I sit with a dashed punctuation mark of a mouth; it is paused, it is hesitating, as I see photo after photo after photo on my news feed of bright red skies, burnt marsupials and the ash streaked faces of The Fire Fighter’s and The Survivors.
This post isn’t about the wider issue of climate change that is driving the current state of Australian emergency. Nor is it about political inaction to address this cause and make appropriate actions to mitigate the worst of a changing climate. A changing climate induced by the Anthropocene era.
It’s about my Fears for The Worst. Because things ARE going to get worse climatically. Even if we all dropped what we were doing today and started making changes at all levels of individual action, community outreach, national policy and international agreement, there is still going to be a serious degree of climatic warming that will have huge impacts upon human life on earth.
I’m also not going to write about The Science. Many other people can do that much better than I can. Namely, Scientists. I’m just a poet and aspiring novelist after all.
What I want to do today is give you a story. One of my stories. It’s about living in a very worry inducing world with a certain degree of anxiety. As in, mental disorder level. I manage it pretty well most of the time. Much better than ten years ago when my belly felt constantly like it were full of squirming kittens and I was taking sedative medication just to get through what felt like very long days. But I do still have bad anxiety days. Sometimes I lie awake worrying about the fact I am worrying and how because I am worrying, I’m not sleeping and that not sleeping isn’t good for my mood maintenance. It’s a panic paradox!
Linking into the bush fire crisis, fire is something I fear with an almost pathological intensity. I’m a Pisces. A water sign. Its elementally opposite in the Zodiac. At least three times a week at work I will worry that my house might burn down while I’m out. Hence, the OCD-like checking of stove elements and electrical sockets. I laugh about this with my friend who has the same fire hazard checking habits but underneath the laughter there is a cold blue fear that one day we will be proved right.
I’m lucky that I live in a damp Pacific city. Fire risk is generally quite low even in a dry summer. This has not been a dry Summer. We’ve had moody rainstorms drench the streets and water-misted clouds swirl around the hill suburbs. This soothes me. Then it doesn’t. Because all I want to do is be able to blow the water across the Tasman to Australia where they so desperately need it.
Instead we send fire fighters and well wishes. We send prayers.
As for me, to deal with both my upset and my anxiety, I am turning to what got me through The Fear last time a decade ago, when worry kittens beat my belly bruised. I’m getting my Art On. A FB acquaintance is organising sewing bees for the wildlife injured or orphaned in the bush fires. I’m going to sew and knit and crochet The Awful out of me.
I’ve long been a believer in getting the messy hurtful feelings out of our hearts and heads. Whether it be making art. Sewing a dress. Writing a melancholic poem you show no one. Baking a cake you decorate with icing rose buds and then devour. Running so fast it feels like you’re flying. Dancing until you are dizzy and fall to the ground.
I’m going to be doing all these Creative Things to a certain degree as my Awful about the bush fires is large and amorphous. I’ll make roo pouches and bat slings. I’m making paintings featuring Gaia type women whose bodies grow not just babies but also flowers. I’m upcycling a dress as a bit of a rebellion against the environmental costs of the fashion industry. I’ve written a poem where I rhyme fire with liar (maybe a little dig at a certain international political figure there…) I’ve not baked a cake but I have made muffins. They cool in a lovely yellow way on my kitchen bench as I write this.
I went running on NY day. I listened to metal in my headphones. The singer’s screams spurred me on to run fast. Then faster. I’ve also booked myself in for a special summer session of my dance class. I’m going to spin around and around to African drumbeats and I hope that after falling to Earth when I get to my feet, the world will have righted itself again.