Inner Transition

With accelerating climate change, the end of economic growth and the rapid depletion of our natural resources, we can certainly get to a point of frustration as we try to figure out what it all means for our family and for us. People’s sense of panic at new peak oil and gas fracking stories, plus the melting ice sheet and the destruction of entire ecosystems, is totally understandable. We may want more information to make sense of it, yet we don’t want to hear more that is painful and frightening. We feel betrayed, outraged and hopeless at how bad things have become. We can feel like the ground has gone out from under our feet, or is shifting or floating. With feelings of hopelessness and despair, some wonder if life will ever be enjoyable again.

It’s hard to let go of the vision of the future we were brought up on. What we studied, worked to accomplish and taught our children is unsustainable now. Most of us expected to retire with a pension, some travel and a sense of accomplishment. Yet we now wonder if we’ll be able to go on heating our homes and driving at will. And surely our children would at least have the same opportunities to experience the mobility and material comforts we’re enjoying.

‘Retail therapy’, ‘shop til you drop’, ‘must have’, ‘to die for’ and queuing overnight to buy the latest gadget, have become parts of our culture. Marketing and advertising strategies are geared to pull ever more of us into this world of endless ‘stuff’. But we can now see a very different future coming. Sufficiency and resilience must ultimately replace growth and personal gain as the cultural norms. That realization often leads to a feeling of loss, a sense of mourning a future no longer possible. We may feel a deep disappointment and sense of failure for not leaving our children and grandchildren what we’ve had and still have.

If you’re figuring out what is meaningful for you, how you can regain some sense of security and belonging in this future reality, you are not alone. Should you continue with your work? Should you move? Should you volunteer or engage in activism? You may be adopting a new sense of identity, of who you are in the world. You may be renegotiating some friendships and family relationships. You may have difficult conversations with colleagues and loved ones, as you want to talk more about what is happening to our planet. You may also be making new relationships, starting to spend more time with people who see the future in this way.

Many of us are trying to figure out how this rapidly changing world will impact our lives in various ways – changes in our homes, how we get around, what we eat, wear, buy, vacation, relax, read and much more. There certainly are parts of my life that I haven’t really looked at, while in others I’ve made significant changes. A few of us locals are searching for how we engage with the invisible stages of change that we all experience at some time or another. How can our local participation with the Transition Movement support these invisible, profound, sometimes very personal stages of deliberation? Some like to go through these processes on their own, but many of us are helped by talking with others about what’s happening in our heads, in our hearts and in our daily lives.

We could all use a safe space for reflections and the sharing of feelings as we are adjusting to new insights that are frightening and disturbing. To share and acknowledge the value of our emotions can bring some grounding, to get back to feeling resourced and empowered rather than driven by fear or stress. Sharing our inner journey often creates a deeper connection and shared purpose and increases the trust and resilience of a group.

Inner Transition is an important component of the change process, and particularly about acknowledging and respecting the huge amount stress going on under the surface as we come to terms with a shifting reality. For most people, Transition is all about doing stuff – building a delocalized infrastructure of food and energy and re-skilling ourselves. What if Transition were primarily about changing people’s cultural frame? What if people, who saw and accepted the reality of our present situation, were making better decisions in work in business, government and service to others?

Our world is clearly finite and we take from future generations. Can we live truly sustainably, in harmony with nature and shared inspiration? Reflecting on inner changes is a critical early step in any Transition. Beginning in September, a Transition West Marin Inner Transition Group that will be forming at Bing Gong’s home, on the third Thursday of each month, starting at 7:00 p.m., to engage is such mutual reflections and support. We invite our fellow West Marin residents to join Transition West Marin in an open gathering focused on inner transitions. Contact Bing Gong at 663-1380 or binggong@sonic.net for more information.