We Are Writing the Story

I’m typing this entry today before running; I doubt I’ll have any wonderful insights later because I’ll be running on the treadmill for once instead of outside. It has been so unseasonably cold here that it reminds me of my growing-up years in Chicago. I have run in this weather but not since over the weekend when we actually got snow and there is now ice in various places on the sidewalks and roads. I fear, more than anything, falling and injuring myself. I fell about a year ago, just down some steps, and realized, as I fractured my spine then, how fragile we are. So, today, treadmill! Update: I just ran and broke a record of running over 2 miles straight, felt wonderful despite it being indoors. Almost done with the program and only 2 minutes short per run of the final goal!!

I have been mysteriously enjoying this cold snap, however. We generally do not get weather like this here, though do see it if we visit the interior in the winter. Vancouver does not often get below freezing. This is our rainy season. Lately we have been having the crisp, clear nights I so miss, where you can see the stars and moon. The snow is not melting, what little we got. These clear nights remind me of ice-skating in parks at night or before dawn at Spring Rock Park in Western Springs, Illinois, when I was a teenager. They remind me of walking to north campus in La Grange, during high school, when I performed as an alto in concert choir, along with our huge school’s orchestras, other choirs, and bands for the holiday concert each year. Nights were cold and unfathomable; inside were thousands as we sang and played Handel along with holiday carols.

I’m sure we’ll get back to our normal weather soon. We are predicted to have a shorter, milder winter overall. However, running in cold is a reminder to me, once again, of the things I’ve blogged about the last couple running posts–the First Nations and others who are withstanding nights, winters, you name it–up on mountains (i.e. Burnaby Mountain to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion) or long, cold, already frozen winters in the Unis’tot’en Camp up north (who are setting up housing to try to legally block the Northern Gateway and other gas/oil pipelines going through unceded territory).

Again, as I was running in the cold over the weekend, I thought of these people and others standing up to the worst climate change perpetrators: fossil fuel industries. There were many arrests on Burnaby Mountain, and it pained me to see native grandmothers being drug away, who were talking about their thousands-year-old responsibility to protect Mother Nature.

You know, I am a huge fan of environmental messages in stories, and I love reading about nature. But we are also writing a story as a society. And it is not fiction. Someday, maybe a hundred years down the road, our grandchildren and their children are going to look back and see our story. It is the story of how, for decades now we have been warned about the fact our Earth is warming. For centuries we’ve had warnings about environmental impact we humans do to degrade Earth. For all of time we have had stories that celebrate the importance of nature and the importance of us connecting to nature. At the same time we are constantly reminded that corporate greed and destruction of natural resources is bad–and that ecological systems are good; these warnings come from data and scientists but also from parables found in fictional stories, from Bambi to The Lorax to Guardians of the Galaxy. Yet, at the same time, we deny that we are actually contributing to anything Bad–and in many cases don’t even believe that the Bad Things exist at all (i.e. climate change deniers). We are writing this story of ourselves and how we are ignoring these Bad Things that are unfolding right before our eyes and will affect our future generations negatively, forever.

I am ready for this story to have a surprise twist, where countries embrace cleaner energy and oil pipelines are reduced, not expanded. I am waiting for our species to be less greedy, less consumer-based (of unneeded products). Perhaps we just need better writers, better directors, better characters. Whatever it is, this story of us is headed toward a catastrophic ending, and we could have written it differently. Somewhere in the footnotes of this huge tale of woe there are going to be the unsung heroes who tried to help us survive, who stood on cold mountains and got arrested. If ever was a story that was important, this one is.

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