How good is your imagination?
When I was a kid, between the abuse I got from my family and the abuse I endured from the nuns at Catholic school, I developed a rich inner world.
Translation: I lived in a vivid fantasy world.
It was my number one coping mechanism. All day long I would ‘daydream’ where I was the hero of the world inside my mind. At night, the wonderful ruminations would continue until I fell asleep, perchance to dream.
What did I dream about? Mostly I’d create scenarios in which girls would like me but also that I would someday be a football hero or a super soldier in some war movie.
As I got older and my mental illnesses coalesced, I would literally tune out. I would begin to disassociate, if the situation I was in was too unbearable.
But of all the scenarios I would construct for myself, daydreams would combine with disassociation and my life would become a movie. Being the star of my own movie was the longest lasting and most popular of all my fantasies. It would get so serious that I would literally be watching my own movie through my eyes.
I would add opening credits, opening music, a soundtrack, etc.
One of my favorite movie genres is apocalyptic or disaster movies. I have watched quite a few of them. Name one and chances are I’ve seen it. My favorite movie of all time is Dr. Strangelove which mixes humor with global thermonuclear war. And copulating like rabbit in mine shafts.
I realize I’ve gone a long way in this essay to get to the point. It’s coming.
So. I always wondered how I would react (or act) in such a movie.
So now, I’ve gotten my perverse wish – I’m a player in a disaster movie; a live action dystopian cinema with a cast of millions. But the movie we’re a part of contains a script that is written solely for us.
I’m in a movie. I’m well aware of the scenario and script. I’m watching it through my own eyes. Every news report, every conversation, every movie I make, I find that I’m reacting as if this all leads to a crisis.
Well, I don’t do this every waking moment (thank goodness), but enough. Surround yourself in climate crisis news long enough and your mind will start playing tricks on you as well.
Many people are looking for coping mechanisms to handle the whole idea of rapid climate change and the end of the world as we know it. This is serious stuff. Immersing oneself in the increasingly depressing realm of climate news are now sending people to psychologists. Some people are having a hard time functioning if they think too much about it.
It’s customary to quote Shakespeare here, so I will.
All the world’s a stage,— The Bard
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
This, of course, it literally true. So why not go with it?
In my quest to help people with this issue, I offer this coping action. Into climate activism? You’re playing a part. Into hedonism? You’re playing a part too. You can be the classic ‘method actor.’
Changing your kid’s diaper? Making the bed? Yep – you’re performing ordinary actions in an increasingly disorderly world. You write the script, you play your part, you do your best with your role. Drama is the spice of human existence.
Is this healthy? In the long run, probably not. But as a stopgap measure when things get too much to bear, putting yourself in a state of slightly altered reality will keep your mind occupied. It costs a whole lot less than therapy.