"The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. Your heart is that large. Trust it." ~ Joanna Macy
Coined by Australian researcher Glenn A. Albrecht, it describes the ‘homesickness’ we feel in (rather than for) our own home as we witness it change and slip away.
Witnessing the destruction and loss of life, home and habitat wrought by the unfolding climate and ecological emergency is deeply painful. While emissions and temperatures continue to rise along with the escalating impacts, more humans will experience first hand the trauma of natural disaster. The mental health implications of living through climate breakdown are bleak. For those with the capacity and courage to pay attention, the fear, grief, anger, sense of helplessness, are all very real.
In the hyper-individualised, business-as-usual world, simply talking about climate can feel awkwardly taboo. These emotions then become further compounded by a sense of dislocation and isolation. When what we see in our day to day lives does not match up with what we know and feel, it is understandable to think we must be alone in this. In fact, over 70% of UK adults report growing concerns about the changing climate, and young people all over the world report feelings of anger, hopelessness and despair. In a world focussed on 'consumer satisfaction' and endless GDP growth, expressing this grief becomes an act of rebellion.
Grief is an essential part of our humanity. As we would not turn away from the suffering of a loved one, or ignore growing discomfort within our own body, pain, both emotional and physical, is an ancient mechanism of survival, a nervous system signal alerting us that something is wrong and requires attention. Audre Lorde guides us, "Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge". Recognise the signal as an act of care and empathy for the world, a call to turn towards the work of repairing what is broken. Fear can easily tip towards violence, so it is imperative that the work of repair and response is always rooted in democracy, anti-racism, justice, empathy and joy. The fates of all our lives, both human and non-human, are bound together.
"This planet is the only home we'll ever have. There's no place like it. And home is
always, always worth it." Mary Annaïse Heglar