How to stay sane and grounded amidst climate catastrophe and civilization dissolution

Recently a comrade in the social permaculture design space posted a message asking for guidance, particularly belief and perspective frameworks, that make it feasible to avoid total engrossing despair at the state of the world and the climate. How can we keep motivated, how can we keep going? Especially when ourselves or our loved ones are in really dark places with this? 

I am sharing my response in case it may be of service to others. ***

Thank you so much for voicing your struggles with this and reaching out to our community for input.

I have grappled with this matter a great deal for close to 20 years, and my response to our situation is always evolving, too. I stay sane today by focusing on how I can have the MOST meaning, the most impact, to my relations. Relations must include all the many layers, from my relationship to myself, to intimate friends, to family, and outwardly to community, and even further to society and ecologies. An action I take today does affect a penguin in Antarctica, only, I cannot know how. 

Even though I cannot know directly, being as we are embedded in complex systems with increasingly disorganized feedback loops, I meditate on the numinous “braiding” of all beings together, and what lessons must be there. And what it looks like to be Whole, within myself and beyond myself, what it looks like to participate in Wholeness-making in communities, and what lessons must be there.

This helps bring me intuitive insights that guide my path, which I interpret (loosely) as being Gaia (collective all-being mind) interacting with me and guiding me in a desire-/meaning-concentrating feedback loop.

There is inherent cognitive dissonance to being a human at this time, as the age of the anthropocene deepens. Yet our role to play is sacred, no less than world-transforming. Yet the work of wholeness-making persists, just like a living body is built to, from the inside out, try to heal itself when wounded, given the chance. My theory is if we plug ourselves together in networks focused on growing and harvesting the utmost meaning in our lives, growing and spreading the utmost good we can muster—we change the game, change the world, change lives. This social permaculture community is one such precious network of minds, talents, ideas, practices and models. I thrive in this soil, and I also keep trying to contribute nourishing amendments (of ideas, comments, modes) there. I believe that in communities of mutual growth (like ecological “guilds”) we thrive, and it is in abiding and advancing these such holistic or even “fractal” patterns that hold the key to “how to be.”

In a complex system, anything matters. Which means, as actors, as beings whose existences interfere with and reproduce patterning in all directions, everything we do could matter. What if we could hold faith that anything we do towards healing, towards increasing life conditions, matters? Especially if we are studying the feedback from our actions, deeply LEARNING about the nature of these complex systems, in the process? We can never really know or relish in this lifetime the life-giving (or life-curtailing) fruits of our actions: those are inherited by future generations. But we can act to embed patterns in the living tissue of time-space that convey to those future beings, “We loved life, too. And we understood how to make life worth living. You are not alone…