shifting my relationship to the apocalypse

recently there was an earthquake, and then a big hurricane and it became clear that the 2012 apocalypse is nigh.

well – all the time there are earthquakes and hurricanes, but these were treated as apocalyptic by the twittersphere, my bank, and my loved ones on the east coast, so i paid attention.

i have long been obsessed with apocalypse, first the God one, then the environmental one, then the Mayan one, then all the rest. it seems like the biggest thing ever, and thus worth my obsessive energy. i have read guides on how to prepare for the apocalypse, and i have an eeyore sounding voice in my head that weighs in about any plans post-2012 – ‘if i’m even here. sigh.’

i read octavia butler religiously, as many of you know, and one of the reasons i was first drawn to her was because she was unafraid to put on a page what it might be like to be a young woman of color in america during an apocalypse. she explored oppression, containment, lack of food and water, lack of control over land, rape, violence, torture, death, separation of families, being alone, trying to have faith in anything throughout all of that. her work arrived when i needed it, and opened the door to a whole field of apocalyptic science fiction that allowed me to safely explore the worst possible futures to my heart’s content.

over the past few years though, through my reading of octavia’s work, and through the relationships i have been deepening in my family, through grief processes, and in my work, i seem to be shifting my relationship to the apocalypse.

or perhaps shifting my relationship to endings. or to matter. or to existence. not sure – what i know is, i don’t feel so panicked, and i don’t feel so rushed. i just feel like i have to live into my full potential all the time.

i am aware of mortality in a healthier way than i have been. mortality means there is a limit to things, a limit to what you get. and it is up to me to unleash the abundance of what is possible within that mortal limitation.

i have always seen death as an ending, but as i go through grief as an adult, for adults i love, i can see how death can be a liberation – an unleashing of a person from the physical realm into the spiritual realm, where they exist as the best of themselves, purely the love and the inspiration. it’s a way of going from being separate, to being distributed amongst many, part of many, part of a whole, without the borders and boundaries of flesh.

octavia wrote of this realm beyond in a way that both intrigued and terrified me – what about going to the stars? what about merging with alien species to become more resilient? what about telepathy, gene mating? what about the universe beyond our world, both in terms of what we can physically experience and in terms of what we can comprehend?

what if there are no endings, truly? what if we released the very idea of endings, and only held onto the idea of transformations – that everything that currently seems to end is actually just transforming to the next iteration, which may be beyond our capacity to comprehend?

i love the idea of things that are beyond my capacity to comprehend. and apocalypse is definitely one of those ideas, especially if i disentangle it from the biblical association it has always had in the back of my mind.

i can do that disentangling not because of what i know, but because of what i feel. i am learning to listen more deeply, and for me that means tuning into all the things i feel as i hear the world, hear my loved ones, hear the news.

i feel like something great is happening, shifting, transforming in the world – its happening in the smallest ways, small enough that we can contribute to the incomprehensible greatness.

the deeper we engage in our self-transformations, and transforming the ways we do our work and listen to each other and bring our full presence to bear on each moment we exist, the more we create shivers of change in the failing systems of this moment. and that is what creates the room for the new.

in the birthing process, in labor, the moment you are absolutely certain you can go no further and it has to end is actually the precipice of new life. if you can push through that, beyond anything that seems possible, you will find yourself holding that new life in your hands, with your whole relationship to yourself transformed in relationship to that newness.

maybe apocalypse means going to the precipice of new life, and transforming my relationship to the world from being solely responsible for myself to being completely responsible for the well-being of another, of others. that kind of apocalypse sparks curiosity more than fear.

who knows what it will look like (‘if i’m even here’) – i am not saying i am suddenly without fear. the ground shakes and so do i. the storm rages and i flinch. death is still unimaginable to me when i run my hands over my own body, feel my own heart beating, think of all the songs and books and ideas i still have inside of me.

but i am considering that it might mean something different than i have imagined. being more awake and resilient than i have even been, more collective and communal than i have ever been, more responsible for my day-to-day survival and that of my loved ones. having to create abundance.

one thing i know from all my apocalypse studies is that only the unabashedly creative and unleashed survive.