Today It's Pakistan

My mind has sprung a leak.

I'm on a long media fast - trying to stay off and away from anything that removes me from the present moment as I try to heal from burn out, but bits show up when I pick up my phone.

Pakistan. Oh my God. I'm so so sorry....overwhelmed actually and thinking in circles.

What to do? The scale, the scale, the scale...the likelihood that this could become a new norm as our beloved planet's ability to regulate where rainfall is distributed, starts to fail completely and it's major drought here and deluge there - wherever 'here' and 'there' are going to be (which is becoming anywhere and everywhere.)

We think it's bad now but we're right at the beginning of what we've consciously set up for ourselves when it comes to climate change. This is the scale I've been fearing, and now it's here I literally can't get my head around it.

75% of the country flood affected. 33 million people displaced.

33 million.

Where do 33 million people go when there is no shelter, no clean water or food, sewage and god knows what covering everything? Where is comfort in that living hell that we are all utterly unprepared for?

Millions of homes destroyed. Over 3500 miles of roads gone. Gone. Over a thousand dead - but that number will rise with cholera and the impossible suffering they are now living in with no end in sight.

Mark and I sat up in bed last night trying to take this in, trying to put ourselves in that situation, taking journeys down social and ecological rabbit holes. The overwhelming enormity of damage to electrical and water infrastructure, the sewage and disease, the loss of basic survival needs, the competition for aid and the desperation and fear. Then the stuff you don't think about - like the millions of destroyed cars and roads - no ability to just 'get out' - no quick fix anywhere. All so difficult in a country that now has to rebuild.

Then the millions of farm animals and livelihoods swept away, then the vast loss of biodiversity and soil swept away, the trash swept away, the poisons and plastics in the oceans....on and on we went. My mind literally couldn't manage it. It still can't. Yet.

Then worst of all. How do you rebuild knowing that this or worse could happen again with monsoon next year, or the year after?

This is the worst form of climate PTSD - certainly the reality we're 'getting used to' in California as fire season becomes all year long. How do you ever actually relax and feel safe? The answer is, you don't. You have no idea if you try to rebuild that your home won't burn down the following year. I know several people who have lost everything twice - and so then where do you go? No where is safe anymore.

I was quietly grieving the Rogue River wilderness that graced me her transformational presence less than 2 months ago, only to now watch as she burns.

Just to place that in context, in Pakistan the flood waters were so fierce they have carved out new rivers, ripped away communities, roads, all forms of stability and normalcy, comfort and ease in a country already in economic free fall. It literally is impossible to get our heads around it. Yes, California is in the worst drought in 12,000 years or some such nightmare and our community is preparing to have lost 90% of the forest within 10 years - but disappearing under water at this scale is an immediate onslaught of absolute devastation with nowhere to run to.

It made me impossibly aware of the clean sheets in the bed I was sitting in, the roof over my head, the privilege of a night sleep ahead and that I would wake up to a shower and a fridge of food. All of these things are miracles. Miracles that we really can forget are the most profound privileges that we take for granted. And they really can be taken away.

Mark and I (and millions of other Californians) have been getting more and more intimate with hardships that millions more without our privileges live with every day.

During the PG&E orchestrated power outages that come with any wind during fire season in California (to protect against trees falling on power lines and starting more fires - which keeps happening), many of us have no electricity and no water etc in what has often also been horrendous heat with no clean air and only smoke to breathe - which frankly is super stressful and beareable only because you know it has an end when normalcy will resume. It's made me hyper aware of privilege of 'the return to normalcy' when for millions this is daily life and it doesn't end - it just gets more extreme as the climate tanks.

As a result, these disasters have been getting more and more real for me. Real, as in, I have no psychic insulation from them beyond the obvious fact that my body is currently not sitting in them.

But 33 million Pakistanis are now looking down the barrel of climate change as it hits them in the face, and in this moment I am clueless what to think or do. They have been planting millions and millions of trees to help combat climate change but how many of them even survived these floods?

And, Pakistani's are not major creators or contributors to climate change, just as the Pacific Islanders quietly vanishing under rising oceans are not, and the Indigenous communities worldwide facing the destabilisation of the climate that underpins their traditional ways are not.

The same with the millions of exquisite species we share this world with who are not contributing to climate change, and yet choicelessly the world they depend upon is in a free fall of change so enormous we - the creators - seem incapable of truly taking on board what it is that we are doing. Because it's become normal.

And - yet - somehow we need to actually face, acknowledge, feel, digest and assimilate the scale and implications, adjustments, sacrifices and transformations of life as we know it, not crumple into shame, apathy or immobilization.

Can we actually get the gift of life's howl that we wake up and remember who we are as parts of nature, custodians of a miraculous world now being shredded almost beyond recognition in some places...

Can we face this? Can we feel it? Can we stop running and doing, and running and hiding, running and numbing out - stop distracting ourselves long enough to let this undo us so that we have a chance of a reset and starting again?

Because it's true - today it's Pakistan, but tomorrow it literally could be your - whole - country.