The following content has been very well-received on my social media. Therefore, I am sharing it here too.
Daring to share . . .
This belongs here, on my page, where ultimately it’s about the welfare of future generations; about equity and connection.
Through recent international “realties”, to situations impacting the welfare of other species and dear friends, I have gained even more insight into how power structures enable abuse and how, at their core, it’s about keeping others small, and preferably . . . silent.
I see, and live, how disparity in power means that those working for equality, truth and justice bleed out time, energy and expense into strategizing to navigate these power systems, adding another layer of disadvantage.
I have felt anger boiling up and exhaustion creeping in. I am an older woman which means . . . I can’t.
Those of us with power must help those who have less, for that is a life well-lived. It does not mean that we have to carry it all. But imagine a world where many more of us recognize and reject the forces that strive to diminutize, divide, distract, and paralyze, and rise into our power to create positive change and help others. More of us united. That’s the world I will continue to work for.
The blog I am referencing is at this link. And yes, by writing this post and that blog, it clears my head, adds to my resolve, represents what motivates me most, and hopefully is of use to others.
Yes I am toying with this idiom to get your attention dear community.
Please read. Please take just a few minutes to check in with yourself. Please share if this resounds with you.
This week the findings of a very big, very important report went into the world. Likely you noted the heft of it; urgent words accompanied by imagery of burning, flooding and/or orange, red and yellow graphs?
Yes, I am talking about the 2021 report by the Intergovernmental Committee on Climate Change. Stay with me! What was your reaction? What did you feel? What will you do?
Take a few minutes please to reflect on this. Was it an emotional cocktail of overwhelm, fear, despondency, shutdown? This would be so understandable, especially for you who are already striving for so much socio-environmental good. But, BUT reflect on the amplified danger of this.
If we shutdown, if it is “too much”, if we bury it, or if we reject . . . where is the action? Where is the resolve and dedication to change? Where is the empowerment? Where is the future?
It is such a difficult and delicate dance in how to communicate the urgency for change while not stimulating the fear that catalyzes paralysis or for “hope” to replace action.
What to do? Feel it and then . . . do it.
We don’t need to be perfect in our actions. That notion also manipulates / debilitates us into eco-paralysis. But we do need to act.
At the very core of what needs to be done is that we need to reject that the use of less fossil fuels is about loss. We need to know the great gains achieved by our consumer and voter actions. We need to act on the knowledge of the common solutions to so many problems being achieved through less fossil fuels, less consumerism (consumerism most often fuels fossil fuel use), and more nature.
We need to model the happiness that comes from empowerment and valuing our reliance on the natural world (like the kelp and trees that absorb our carbon).
We need to embrace that disempowerment is not only individually disabling, it is the denial by those who have power over the rights and choices of others.
For those who have found their way here but, for whatever reason, are not able to believe there is a climate crisis, my empathy to you. If this post provokes you, there is emotional truth in that too. There are of course deep reasons for why you believe what you do. Please know that I understand but I will not tolerate any comments that are motivated by countering precaution and/or countering science and reasoned and respectful dialogue.
The photo above is of me 21 years ago, about a week after I got “mask squeeze” on my 37th birthday. I came across the image while preparing for an Ocean Day talk last week. It was taken as a staff photo when I had the joy of teaching children with special needs.
I found myself staring at the photo, at younger me, and thinking of how much has been learned since then. I am sharing with you because . . . because why? Sure, there’s a lesson in physics here but that’s not it. There’s also maybe something of value in how the most important things in life sometimes don’t come easy. But more than that, it’s about sharing some of what I have learned in these years, what I strive to put into the world, and why. 💙
It won’t surprise you to know that you can’t be the same after you’ve been punched in the face by the Ocean. So here goes . . .
Mask squeeze happened on my 20th dive when I did not know enough to realize how little I knew. It was my second birthday back in BC after my many years of teaching in the Netherlands.
I was on a dive trip to some of the most challenging conditions on our coast. The accident happened during one of my first dives in a dry suit. I now know it was madness to be doing my first dives in a dry suit in such challenging conditions. But it was the result of some human chaos and unreliability whereby the suit was not ready when it was supposed to be. Thereby, I could not sufficiently practice with the dry suit before the dive trip and get used to the change in buoyancy from my Dad’s old, thin wet suit.
On that 20th dive, when I rolled into the water off the boat, my fin slipped off my suit. My mask flooded. I did not realize I was holding my breath as I tried to grab the fin. I continued to descend whereby the pressure in my mask did not equalize. BOOM – the pressure of Mother Ocean pushed against my mask and blew out every capillary in my eyes.
From my dive log back then: “ Whatever it took, it was SO worth it. Astounding, astounding life. So grateful to my dive buddies who helped me and who decided the dive site should now be named Shiner Rock.”
It was a powerful lesson in shaping me on this path . . . the vital importance of humility, respect and knowing one’s place in the natural world.
Since then, I have metaphorically faced equivalent injuries, usually inflicted as a result of human ego and disconnect from understanding how our actions impact future generations.
The resulting process has been the same: learn, heal, surface, and repeat.
I will admit too that this photo makes me reflect on the few who say to me “You’re so lucky” or who have had the need to try to blow out my fire. I am lucky in many, many ways but, as much as I do not know the journeys of others, very few know my path – some very difficult choices made and painful lessons learned. We’ve all had those and how very easy and privileged indeed my path has been compared to that of so many others.
I’ve written about having mask squeeze once before, after my 800th dive over 7 years ago. There I reflected: “The Ocean is the source. The battle force. She is my inspiration. She is the beginning and she is the end. She is where I hide and where I am fully exposed. She has taught me my most valuable lessons and . . . . I know it’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.”
I thank all who carry me forward – from my dive buddies to you, the readers, who signa shared values and understanding. . Please know how much direction you give.
Onward, fuelled by lessons learned and knowing what matters most.
See this link for my previous blog about mask squeeze and lessons learned: “My 800th Dive. From Shiner to Shining?” from January 2014.
And while everyday is an earth day for those of us on this blue planet, April 22nd is a day to increase resolve to live knowing our place IN the environment, because that’s where greatest well-being lies.
With this also being my birthday, maybe there is even greater reflection and taking stock – the lessons learned; the how-did-we-get-here; what has changed; what has not; the way forward; how much time is left . . . you know, the big stuff.
The privilege of reaching this age includes that there is more knowing of what has been, which helps inform how to move forward. There is greater understanding of the pushes and pulls on human values, and a greater ability to see over greater timelines, and know common solutions.
Yeah, my head does not spin as much at this age.
THAT was my clumsy segue to the following. For a long time, I’ve wanted to share “The Ark Video” which dates back to 1988. I found it so powerful at that time and believe it still has value and “deserves” to live on the internet, where it may still have positive impact.
The video features Dawn French as Mother Earth, scolding humanity, her children. You know Dawn French. She’s the fabulous British comedian of the “French and Saunders” duo, the “Vicar of Dibley”, the “Fat Lady in the Painting’ in Harry Potter, etc.
Look! The video is so old, it was on VHS and I had it converted to DVD. A reminder that 1988 was pre-internet and before most of us had computers.
There’s that reflection again: How quickly some things change, while others do not, and . . . why?
Watch the video with that in mind?
Note that the organization being promoted, The Ark Environmental Foundation, never proceeded with the promise this video provided. They faded out by the early 1990s. I don’t know why. There were big names involved. Kevin Godley of the rock band 10cc was the director of the video and I believe David Bowie was associated with Ark too.
I am sharing this with you in part to make you smile but also, to let you know about this auction that is so essential to the work we do as the Marine Education and Research Society.
Please see ALL the unique, marine-themed, sustainable goodness in the online auction at this link.
And to Kerri, one billion thank yous for all the joy this brings. 💙
Kerri Reid is a visual artist living in Sointula where she co-runs the Sointula Art Shed, a small artist residency/window gallery/project space. She has a BFA from Emily Carr and an MFA from the University of Guelph; has participated in shows and residencies nationally and internationally; and has taught art at OCAD, the Toronto School of Art, and the University of Guelph. She is also a mom who works part-time from home for the Living Oceans Society.
Her descriptor of the finger puppets: “That’s Jacques Cousteau casually smoking his pipe and wearing his signature and very stylish red toque, hanging out with the one and only Jackie Hildering aka The Marine Detective in her scuba gear with her infamous green tutu. ☺️ ”
I am sharing it here too in the hopes that it is of value to you in thinking about our giant neighbours, how far we come in overcoming fear and disconnect but . . . read on. 💙
[And welcome to all those landing here as a result of the recent CBC interview. It would be wonderful if you follow along on social media with The Marine Detective and the Marine Education and Research Society. Links are at the bottom of this post.]
Take but a few minutes to reflect on the giants; how they enrich life on earth and how endure human need?
They inspire awe, capture carbon, fertilize the ocean upon which our lives also depend, and remind us of our capacity for change.
So many were driven to the brink as a result of whaling, which only ended in British Columbia in 1967. They have survived the breadth of human impacts from harpoons and guns, to overfishing and ignorance of ecosystems, to capture and the selfie absorption of believing wild whales put on shows.
Some populations may topple still.
Now they swallow the consequences of our disconnect and consumer crazed lifestyles – climate change, plastics, toxins, continued overfishing, noise, collision, entanglement, etc.
The leviathans, may we truly understand how they are barometers of our value systems, indicators of environment health, ambassadors of the marine ecosystem that sustains life on earth, and reminders of how little we know and that we are but small . . . in the world of the whale.
Photo is of Cirque the Humpback with scarring testifying to being a survivor of collision. See the scarring from a boat propeller?
The following photo, taken recently, catalyzed the following words.
How I hope they resound with you, and maybe even that they are of use to you.
Breathe, knowing others breathe too.
It has such importance, to live knowing we share air, share water, share economies, and share fates.
Decisions made by one have the potential to negatively or positively impact those standing within 2 metres, those on the other side of the planet, and/or those who are another species. Impacts rippling on from how we vote, to how we consume, to the words we put into the world. For words carry power as strong as viruses, seeding and spreading hatred, or empowering and healing with compassion and equality.
These are difficult times, but much is being unmasked and called out for what it is re. narcissism and presumed privilege, racism and misogyny, economic disparity and how it rocks the foundations of the systems we all depend on, and in disconnect from Nature and the species we share the planet with.
Power to you all who, step-by-step, word-for-word, put good into the world, working for equality, connection and health (in its full sense – physical / mental / social / environmental).