(The asterisk has been used in this article to assuage internet conservatism.)
"I think I've reached my F*CK IT! moment" I said to Joanna.
"How would you like to explore that through art?" she replied, unperturbed by my uncharacteristic language.
For several years we had been swapping arts-based supervision sessions with each other, at first to help us navigate the challenges of our working life. These monthly sessions had subsequently supported our buoyancy through the tides of Joanna's PhD and its aftermath, my unplanned "retirement", and my subsequent journey into climate change activism.
After a year of failed attempts to interest anyone in my "Active Hope" groups, and recently felled by several months of chronic pain during which I had stopped my Gratitude Journalling, I had come to this session sleep deprived and exhausted. The night before, one of my Facebook friends had posted a video in which the term "near-term human extinction" featured, with people exploring the meaning for them of the "F*CK IT!" moment. That video had found a deep resonance.(1)
Yes, I was definitely at a F*CK IT! moment.
"I don't know, Joanna," I replied to her question about how to proceed. "I don't feel like I've got any creativity left in me." After a long pause... "Perhaps drawing".
Joanna got out some paper and art materials. She apologised for the small A4 paper, but it was just right for the size of my creative impulse. I positioned the paper and its cardboard support on a stool in front of my comfy chair, and chose her crayon pencils, which were bundled with an elastic band. Joanna went to get something for a moment and I sat holding the bundled pencils vertically with both hands, tips against the page, and began a back-and-forth twisting movement, (screw it?), eventually covering the page with multicoloured zig-zags.
It looked like a forest. A F*CK IT forest! My sense of humour began to peep through my exhaustion. I wrote underneath the forest: The F*CK IT moment has come! And then around the edges, turning the paper: Have fun with it! Turn it around! Let it BEEEEEEEEEEEEE...
A path into the centre of the F*CK IT forest lead me to a place where I sat and just BEED, like a buddha.
"What do you see from the centre of the F*CK IT forest?" asked Joanna.
I looked around. "Too much for a heart to bear." I answered. My tears revealed that I had spoken my truth at that moment.
After a pregnant silence, Joanna read me two poems which she had gone to fetch while I had been drawing.
Poems that Joanna read to me
I became a strange person,
No one comprehends my state,
I chant and I alone listen to myself,
No one understands my language.
My language is the language of the birds,
My homeland is the country of the beloved,
I am a nightingale, my beloved is my rose,
To be sure, the colour of my rose never fades.
Have you not seen the sunset? Watch the sun rise, too.
Can the sunset inflict any harm on the sun or on the moon?
Which seed did not grow after it was sown in the soil?
Do not worry that the human seed will not grow.
"Do not worry that the human seed will not grow". These words reminded me of "near-term human extinction", a phrase used in the video, a phrase that I'd heard before but shut out of my mind.
I began to describe my sense that it is only a matter of time before people start forms of ecoterrorism to defend what's left, because they see other avenues for a peaceful transition failing.
"Would you like to have a dialogue about this?" suggested Joanna.
The F*CK IT dialogue
Two chairs. I chose a red scarf and a blue scarf, draped over them.
"Where do you want to start?"
I sat on the blue chair and began to speak to my other self on the red chair. "History shows us that change comes in two ways, through violence or peacefully. The trouble with violence is that it leads to backlash and then it becomes a To & Fro, Eye-for-an-Eye..."
"Make it personal" interrupted Joanna.
"Be patient." I said to my red self.
From the red chair: "Patient! They've been blah-blahing for 20-30 years and now it's too late for more blah-blah! This elephant needs a firecracker for it to budge."
Blue: "I'm exhausted. Maybe you're right. F*ck it! Maybe it is time - but I haven't the energy to start a bushfire. If you've got the energy, go ahead. But be prepared for the reaction. Your bushfire will get out of control."
Red: "Maybe that's what has to happen. The situation is explosive. Something's got to give way. Every time I learn of another species going extinct, how we're killing the oceans, birds feeding their chicks plastic and dying in agony... Don't tell me to stomach it all and be nice to politicians and try to talk them into DOING SOMETHING! F*CK IT!"
Blue: "If you start a "bushfire", be aware that the "backburn" force far outweighs your might. They will clamp down with martial laws, drones, missiles, walls... (An image comes)... It's like the difference between a bushfire and a solar panel - the former brings nothing but chaos; the latter can channel all that energy into productive outcomes. (gently) I'm not suggesting you relinquish your rage, just try to put it to work in the most productive ways, using our knowledge of human psychology, politics, economics, the way the beast works - you've got to be smart with your rage."
Red: (after a long pause) "I hear you."
Joanna indicated it was time to wind up the conversation and thank each other.
Blue: "Thank you for your energy and passion."
Red: "Thank you for your wisdom."
I felt an inner coming together of these two part of myself, and it felt good to have them reconciled to working together. I wondered if the chronic pain and sleep deprivation was the only way I could have been brought to the F*CK IT moment, since normally I'm such a doer and control freak. Had my unexpressed rage been so seething that it had been eating me up from the inside?
Whatever...the F*CK IT forest had yielded its message. Thank you Joanna.
(1) Link to the Fu*k It! @ The Fuki! video: