Monday, June 1, 2015

Where have we come from and where are we going to?

The first month at the new job has passed. It passed quite quickly.
Working at a churchyard does have a strange effect. Spending a lot of times on your knees on top of a grave or close to it, a tombstone right in front of your face. The eyes wondering, looking at the names, the dates..... Some of those resting here are young and I shiver at the thought of having to bury one of your children. Some of those resting here are old as are some of the graves and I can not help but wondering what their lives were like back in the days. How did they live? What did they think of? What did society look like?
And being so close to the dead makes me wonder about my own life, the things I do and the world I one day will leave behind... Perspectives shift, change. And yet this is not only a place of death and sorrow. Some of the trees are as old as some of the graves. Older probably. And they harbour a lot of life. Birdlife in particular. And I get to witness that life up close. I guess some of the birds have come here for generations. They almost seem tame. I see tits and fares building their nests in the nest boxes and coniferous trees. I see the younglings leave the nest and hop around, feathery fluff on their heads like they just came out of bed and next to tailless..... I see the parents battling off crows and magpies, which have nests of their own here.
There was one incident I thought was quite special. Whilst emptying the waterstorage boxes underneath the plant trays I found a cluster of ants floating in the water. They were clinging to each other and most were alive. The dead ones were at the bottom, having sacrificed their lives for the common good. Their bodies acting as a raft for the rest to climb on too.... I scooped them out of the water and as I put them in the grass the cluster immediately fell apart. The living ones scurrying off, leaving a layer of bodies behind.

And now I am sitting here, tired.... Body's not used to working anymore...
A full time job as a churchyard gardener is a lot of physical work. Trying to create a food garden and maintaining the rest is too. The more so, if you have to do that simultaneously.
Yet it is a good kind of tiredness. A tiredness that comes with having done some real work... good work.

And still there is another form of tiredness. A tiredness of the mind. I previously wrote that I feel so much more rooted and I still do. I also wrote that I do not think so much anymore, but that is not quite true.... What comes into mind, apart from what I mentioned, is equally tiring. Maybe even more so....
I wrote about my mum reappearing into my life after a long absence and that feels real good. I wrote about the picture that made me think of my dad and that did more than I initially thought. It hit home more. Both events did. Made memories resurface, good and bad ones. Anxieties too. It makes me focus on myself; painfully aware of things I do, say, think or feel. I am not him, but very much like him, despite working very hard not to be..... Have been doing so for as long as we have kids and that worked out pretty well I must say. But it is also wearing me down at times and when being tired you let your guard down more easily.....

I have also been reading a lot. About where we are as a society, as humans. Where we have come from and above all where we are going and bringing our own children into the picture the pressure intensifies. Intensifies, because of the realisation that they will inherit a world we have created. A false world, which is falling apart. Falling apart fast!! What will their future be like? What will ours be?

I read a good deal of blogs, articles, books and studies dealing with these issues and one thing becomes clearer by the day; the world as it is today will soon cease to exist. Very soon. No, not in an apocalyptic BOOM.... Although that option still is open... No, in a much more mundane and fundamental way. There is this ever present feeling that we are running out of time..... because we are running out of resources. We on a global scale that is.
I am reading and thinking a lot about these small words and their implications; peak oil. Small words, but with an impact beyond imagination. What they mean? Simple. We are running out of oil... So? Any idea how much we are dependent on that as a society? As a civilization? A good bet.... very close to 100%.... Each and every aspect of our lives is dominated by it. And there are many clear indications that we have used up, squandered the vast majority of it. Production has reached its peak or very soon will and after that resources dwindle fast.... very fast. Currently with little, feasible alternatives. Of course this is all denounced by the mainstream media and politicians, proclaiming we should continue business as usual and everything is fine. Except that it's not.
I will come back on this issue shortly, when I do a review on a book dealing with that, but if you want to know more, just google those 2 little words. And do your homework. Or go to the The archdruid report, for instance. Then you will understand why it is on my mind and why it creates a very strong urge to hurry up and do/complete what we are doing here. Being aware of the issue, reading and learning about it, makes one see the signs ever more clearly. Not just the signs that are very present in everyone's face, also the ones more hidden beneath the surface and are visible to those knowing, but the most disturbing ones are the signs that lurk at the horizon. Signs that paint a not so pretty picture. Global depression like we have never seen before. Shortages, Rising prices. Unemployment. Civil unrest. Famine. War... Because that is what comes with a failing, crumbling civilization. That is not doomsday thinking. That simply is a reality.
Yet out of the ashes a new civilization will arise and I really want us, or at least our (grand)children, to be a part of that. A contributing, constructive part... So I still hope for and work toward a world that is worth living for and in. There are so many things we can do. So many alternatives and choices.
And that restlessness, that urge is also tiring. Mentally. I did not sleep so well these past few days and this may just be the reason why. But it is an issue worth losing sleep over. My future, my family's future and the future of all of us. Many of whom will not make it and maybe we will neither. But I do know that learning and preparing now will enhance the chances of my family making it significantly.


  1. Hi, Ron, that is a most excellent post again. I feel that tiredness, too. I work in a job where there is no "real" work and where I am surrounded by egoists, and in a rewarding sort of job, which is not actually paid, but satisfying. And I feel that autumn has come for our so - called western civilization, too.

    I am not that optimistic, though. The tycoons of our so - called real world are like jackals who´d rather vomit on something they cannot eat than let someone else have it. They´d rather destroy the world than let others have it. Plus, what Monsanto and the likes did to the ecosystem can never be reversed already, and when the bell tolls they would unleash all they have in the cellar just to inhibit anyone from having a life. The bees will die out, and that´s about it.

    Of course I love life and will try to survive, but I have no illusions - I will not succeed. I am a spiritual man and my hope lies beyond description. I do not envy the dead, but death is all I expect from life.

    I live it as good as I can, with a smile. Maybe that´s not enough.

    1. I know you do not believe and you know I refuse to give in, so let's just leave it at that.

    2. I don´t give in, either, and I want to sincerely thank you (amongst others) for giving me the courage to fight on, myself. In martial arts there is a saying that only those who are prepared to die will ultimately survive. This is my hope.

  2. Yah, there's nothing like working among tombstones to make you think! In England among 500 year old tombstones I gave up my attachment to being "special" which is what everyone had always told me I was from little on. It was not a sad letting go. It gave me a kind of weird peace from the pressure of trying.

    Then I could just start living. To "live it as good as I can". I think that's plenty! Especially if we can think outside the box! Then the children can think outside even more!

    When I was a kid the movies they had for us were only skin deep and focused on image. Today's movies (like the recent mainstream Disney "Tomorrowland") are more deep and thoughtful. When I was a kid all the heroes were boys. The girls were just waiting for Prince Charming to save them. Now the girls are stepping up to the plate to stand next to the boys. I feel hope. I wish I could live a thousand years to see what happens to this old human race. Will we make it? Stay tuned.

    It's a curse to be able to remember the past and to envision the future but that's our situation. Let's find cool ways to deal with it.

    1. I am all too familiar with that curse.

  3. Your thoughts resonate with something in my mind. I think it is your wish for your grand children, I kind of think of them - in case I get any - too. I think I'm in the acceptance stage, almost completely, and I find myself mulling over what will come after the steepest part of the downturn.

    Supposing that there is life after the collapse, what will it be like? Going back in time, i.e. living like in the eighteen century isn't really an option I think. There will be badlands around neglected chemical and nuclear industries. The seas don't contain the amount of fish needed to feed a fisher village, soils are depleted and.... Well, there are so many things that are in worse shape on the way down than on the way up.

    Is there something we can do, on a personal basis, to mitigate the consequences for our children and grand children? What? Yes, I think it will come to personal preparedness since politicians are in the pockets of big business and many of the initiatives to change things try to do this by changing the politics. Which of course won't work.

    1. Life after the collapse will be harsh, basic and full of hard work. Each day, the whole day.
      But that is what countless generations did before us. Only problem is, is that there will be no magically appearing heaps of resources to discover and exploit.
      We will have to make do with whatever there is around. Going back to old technologies will be one of them. Using the power of horse and ox to plow and harvest, using our own muscles to do the work and using wood for tools and (re)forging. Going back will mean retracing our steps from the "progress" we have made, for what is progress anyway? It simply means moving forward, even if the chosen path is wrong.

  4. Ah, physical tiredness from manual labor...something I've "rediscovered" recently myself. :) Much better than working-all-day-on-the-computer tiredness. I've dropped a pants size over the last two months because of it. :)

    As for oil, the peak probably has been reached, but that doesn't mean it will be gone tomorrow. The supply will taper off over the decades, and hopefully new sources of energy will be found to replace them. But as you mentioned, there are a lot of other worrying issues as well. I think you're wise to prepare yourself and your family for the future, which is what I am trying to do as well. I am accumulating power tools and equipment, but for every tool which uses gasoline or electricity, I have a backup tool that uses good old muscle power. You never know... I do admire your positivity in the face of so many things being wrong, but being fathers, what choice do we have. We MUST be optimistic and try our best for ourselves and our children.

    1. Given the sources I read the supply might indeed take decades for the oil supply to taper off, but that will also mean that demand far outclasses supply, meaning only the very wealthy states, organisations or people have the means to purchase it. Oil and other fossil fuels will simply be no longer available to the common man in the largest part of the world. China and India are ever growing as is their hunger for fuel and resources and let's face it; the Chinese can cough up much more cash than many of the current western nations combined. And that does include practically every country in Europe.
      I too am investing and accumulating equipment, but preferably without a combustion engine. I do believe, based on the sources I read and the signs I recognise, a first major shift will come within a decade. That's right; ONE decade.
      That leaves me with barely enough time to learn the skills of old and then transfer them onto my children.

    2. Sure, fossil fuels may become so expensive that only the rich can afford them, but if lots of people around the world demand energy (and have at least some money to pay for it), the market will function the way it always has: some new innovation will come along to meet the need. Sure, there will be a lot of costs involved in converting to new power sources, but it will have to happen if people want to continue using energy, unless some other combustion alternative can be found.

      I remember reading that, during wartime, people converted their cars to run on the gases released from wood fires burning in a stove in their trunk/boot! If that could be done back then, imagine what kind of solution could be dreamed up today (burning garbage to fuel cars in a similar way?).

      I also believe that big changes are coming soon, which is why I am also scrambling to learn skills, build networks, create a homestead etc. and teach my son in the process. Time will tell!

    3. The only problem is..... is that there is no substitute for the fossil fuels we consume today. There is nothing that can easily be exploited, so full of energy to be used and above all so abundant that it can compensate or substitute the gargantuan amounts we are consuming.
      There simply is no such thing. The technologies and gimmicks we have today? All based on or made possible by fossil fuels.
      Sure, we can build gaswood driven cars. Any ideas how much fuel that takes? About 1 m3 for every 100km. Maybe we could enhance that to 150km. And that is for a car or small lorry. How much wood would you consume on a 1 yearbasis, based on your current use of fuel? How much wood would a community use? A country??
      Most if not all of your garbage is made of or possible by fossil fuel btw. Just look at it.

      No, I do believe that we are running out of technologies and new fuelsources. We will go back to musclepower and basic mechanics.