I saw an article today that describes how Western countries will not meet the environmental targets outlined in the Paris Accord. I'm not surprised about this at all.
I'm not surprised for multiple reasons. Here are the most basic reasons I'm not surprised in the slightest:
The reasons above are systematically solutionable. We can solve those issues in various, systematic ways. That's what makes it so heartbreaking that we can't seem to get past it.
Here's why I'm not surprised at all that we won't meet the goals lined up in the Paris Climate Accord: because my life hasn't changed. Not one bit. I still drive my car way more than I should; I still keep my apartment warmer than I should; I still buy products like I did before. The Accord hasn't affected me directly one bit.
How can we expect systematic change when it doesn't affect parts of the system? If the only cost to the accord is the rising price of gasoline, or a little extra inflation, how will we affect change?
I'd say we won't. Until the measures taken to meet those goals force me to change my ways, I can assume we won't meet those goals. As long as I'm insulated from the effects of the accord, Canada won't be acting in a way that lets us meet it.
The article reads,
Failure to slow the pace of climate change will inflict massive dislocation on people around the world, with expectations of prolonged droughts and fires in some regions, and more extreme hurricanes and rain storms in others, climate scientists warn.
All of those symptoms? Those are the most easy things to deny responsibility for. So until I learn to perceive my part in them, I doubt the entire country would be able to pull off a similar mindset shift.
There are no "could've beens." There were choices we could have made differently, but nothing could've been that didn't happen.
I get caught-up in could've beens quite often. In high school, I wanted to go into photography. I took business and entrepreneurship classes hoping some of it would rub off on me. I imagined I could go to BCIT or some technical school and learn the ropes. I thought similar things about working in radio and broadcasting. But when I graduated, the prospect of working for myself genuinely scared me out of it. I felt incompetent and unwanted and just wanted a job that someone would pay me at. So I defaulted to teaching. I'm ok with teaching, but it's hard not to fall into could've beens about photography and whatnot.
On a similar note, I entered into marriage when I wasn't ready. I felt nervous about it, but I also felt nervous about not doing it. I made the choice to get married since I knew I'd have reservations and regrets either way. I trusted the wrong intuitions. And as much as I imagine what could've been with that relationship and the thousands of choices I could've made differently within and without it, it doesn't matter. That alternate timeline is just one of thousands of possible fictions, mere fantasies in my imagination. Sure, I could've made different choices, but who knows what those choices would've led to.
Could've beens exist in a false narrative, in the stories we tell about our own lives, in the myths that help us make sense of our decisions. We make a choice and imagine, or project our hopes onto that decision. When we think in could've beens, we project our current mindset to a person in the past and create a myth that the person we are today matches with the people we were in the past.
I only have one true narrative, the one that contains the choices I made. And I am the result of those choices. I might imagine that I could have become the person I am now without those experiences, but that's not true.
There is no 20/20 hindsight for an alternate story, because that story doesn't exist. I can lament the choices I made in regards to my career or relationships, but only so far as the choice itself. After that choice, the timeline never started. Only one timeline started, and that's the only timeline worthy of my reflection.
There's a funny thing about some of the sadder portions of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four. While O'Brien tortures Winston, he says,
Only the disciplined mind can see reality, Winston. You believe that reality is something objective, external, existing in its own right. You also believe that the nature of reality is self-evident. When you delude yourself into thinking that you see something, you assume that everyone else sees the same thing as you. But I tell you, Winston, that reality is not external. Reality exists in the human mind, and nowhere else. Not in the individual mind, which can make mistakes, and in any case soon perishes:
In this context, O'Brien gaslights Smith into believing something he does not perceive. But the gaslighting hangs on a truth: that our heads' perception is the only perspective thhat constructs our reality.
I would like to break out of the "could've been" thinking cycle. I've tried counselling and therapy, religion and art, learning and activity, but I still seem to sink into the pattern. I imagine the pattern's preponderance in my thinking stems from a deep dissatisfaction with my current way of life, despite my numerous blessings and good things.
As I write this, I get the feeling that it comes down to gratitude. I need to practice gratitude for my good life, for the things I have, for the things I've learned, and even the obtuse way I've learned those things.
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