The whole earth is a great tablet holding the multiple overlaid new and ancient traces of the swirl of forces. Each place is its own place, forever (eventually) wild. A place on earth is a mosaic within larger mosaics – the land is all small places, all precise tiny realms replicating larger and smaller patterns.
Gary Snyder, The Practice of the Wild
Culture is a mosaic too. The root of the word ‘culture’ comes from the Latin ‘to till, to worship’, the way we all come together to cultivate the ground of our shared being – we give it our attention as citizens, we want to improve it, refine it, according to our shared values. Like the farmer, who at the same time must work the land as if they’ll live forever and die tomorrow.
Facing the climate crisis, which is an existential one, a crisis of consciousness, imagination, we have to learn to accept the same paradox – how to live well, not knowing if we’re sitting at the bedside of a dying planet or serving as midwives for the birth of a new cycle of evolution, an unprecedented iteration of human possibility.
And experiencing this, cultivation has to happen on a personal level too, within our own individual mosaic – always starting where we are and cultivating enough kindly self-awareness to know the difference between a reactive fight, flight or freeze response and a creative one, open to possibility, regeneration and transformation. This has to be the more hopeful and helpful path to take – so that we can try to be the person in the room who makes being in that room better, not worse – less divisive, more diverse, honest and practically supportive.
Culture is the place where the individual and the collective meet and nature and ecology are not separate from that because it is who we are … and we know it creates a sense of community – where we can find strength and encouragement and the potential for deeper understanding and well-being, so we can make better choices together towards a sustainable present and future.
When we look at the climate and ecological crisis, we are looking at the past, the present and the future and how they all affect each other: this is the nature of Time, of the physics of cause and effect. When we know that, really know that, in our own bodies and bones, we see that every choice we make affects what will happen to our children, our grandchildren and their grandchildren and will not hesitate to stand in the way of any harm. As a representative of the older generation, this is my perspective – we are all mosaics within larger mosaics and, however overwhelming that may be, that’s the only place we can act from, as kin, within the enormous, tangled family of things.
On the edge of many precipices we are living in prophetic times, where the gifts of the ancestors are revealing possibilities for pathways forwards. But the path forward can only be traversed after reckoning with the past.
Melissa Nelson, Decolonising Conquest Consciousness