It’s almost the end of 2016 and I can’t help thinking that something really big has just happened. And I don’t just mean Trump, Brexit and the final nail in the coffin for the Great Barrier Reef.
It feels like the ground has shifted beneath my feet, and the sturdy soil I once stood upon has switched colour, texture and smell. It feels as though the ground has literally changed its own reaction to my clunky feet stumbling across it, and I am no longer welcome.
The world around us feels anxious, resentful and fatigued. Meanwhile the Earth itself is warming up (quite literally we know) as though it’s firing up for a fight that we all know it will win (but potentially at the cost of humans in the process). Something big has definitely happened this year, and this shift is only going to continue into 2017.
Can you feel it too?
In so many ways a huge change was inevitable. For anyone with an interest in history you will know that human existence has ebbed and flowed with peace and war, progression and oppression; as if the very idea of life balance has been played out as a dramatic theatre production, with humans the unwilling actors of their own unedited script.
But unlike events such as the French Revolution or the Partition of India, the events of 2016 feel more than just a difference of opinions led by political, societal or religious views, culminating in a moment in time no one will forget. This feels subtle, and in many ways potentially more destructive.
This year it took us less than 8 months to use up our year supply of the Earths resources, and experts have warned that the planet is sliding into ‘ecological debt’ earlier and earlier every year. Populations of fish such as Tuna and Mackerel have fallen by nearly 75% and deforestation in the Amazon has increased a staggering 29% in the last year alone. We have known about these issues for some time now, but this year it feels all the more potent.
For the first time in my life my body, mind and heart seem to reflect the hopelessness of our situation. I don’t sleep as well as I used to. I am increasingly depressed, anxious, fatigued and unmotivated. I cry often. I feel sad and alone and I don’t know why. But then I open a paper, read an article online or speak to loved ones and I remember why I feel this way. Life is crumbling around us and we all choose ignorance over action because deep down I think we worry it’s too late to act.
Have I been alone in feeling overwhelmed and unnerved by life in 2016? Knowing that 1 in 5 of us now suffer from some form of anxiety, I doubt I am. But is it really the depressing news stories of political upheaval, societal division and economic woes that have us feeling uneasy? Is social media and the isolating pressures of keeping up with our peers Instagram dream life lies making us feel unworthy and meaningless?
Or are we, as I like to think, so in tune with the planet which literally breathes life into us, that our minds and bodies are embodying the effects of the environmental shifts taking place. Who knows, unbeknown to us, we may actually be shifting ourselves; preparing to adjust to the harsh new world we may end up facing in our lifetime.
I like to think that as I learn to fight my anxiety, and look toward the light for inspiration and strength, this is just another part of my journey as a human living on our unpredictable, flawed but beautiful home called Earth. At least this way, I have hope for 2017; not just for the planet, but my own ability to survive on it.
How have you felt about 2016? Do you feel anxious and concerned about the future, or do you have a completely different perspective full of hope and excitement for 2017?