I’m lying on my belly with needles in my shoulder and neck. My acupuncturist says, ‘inhale, exhale.’ In goes another needle. My right shoulder is rock solid tight from sitting at my computer with my shoulders hunched up around my neck. As though the hunching will squeeze the words onto the page. Silly me. Instead I can hardly turn my head and the page remains blank.
As I’m lying on the table I remember that I’ve fallen short on my promise to talk to seven people in seven days about climate change. So I take advantage of my captive audience.
I tell my acupuncturist about my promise and ask her if she’d be willing to answer two questions. She’s game. After all, she’s holding the needles. ‘What do you think climate change is?’ The words come out muffled with my head in a face cradle. She begins by apologizing a bit saying she should know more. But she’s pretty spot on. “I think there’s too much carbon dioxide in the air from burning fossil fuels—oil, gas and coal. Somehow that is causing everything to heat up. And because everything is connected to everything else, the heat means more droughts and fires and floods. It’s also affecting the ozone layer.” She says. I hesitate. I’ve heard this before—people mixing the ozone layer into the climate change conversation. They actually have nothing to do with one another. Should I tell her? I’m not so much interested in folks getting the facts right–it’s more about getting the conversation going and breaking the silence.
“How do you think it will affect you?” Most of the week she lives in the high desert.
“We just bought solar panels and our goal is to get off the grid. So, we’re good.”
Hm. I think to myself. I’ve got another ten minutes on the table, might as well take the conversation to the next level.
“What about food?” I say. “How do you think climate change will impact food?” It gets very quiet in the already quiet room. Then she says, “all our water comes from our well. If the drought continues, we’ll be in trouble. People are going to start fighting about water. And the desert is not the easiest place to grow your own food.”
I start to feel bad. I come to her to release the tension I hold in my neck and shoulders – which she does magnificently. But in turn I leave her with a basket full of worries. I tell her we need to break the silence around climate change. Talking about it makes people think about it, thinking about it is distressing. So people don’t talk about it. We don’t want our lives to be disrupted. But our lives will be disrupted. Especially if we don’t take action
“Would you be willing to ask someone else these questions?” “Yes.” she says. I don’t expect it will be easy for her to out of the blue say, ‘hey, let’s talk about climate change.’ But I’m betting that she will put herself on the line.
The needles come out. My body is quiet. My neck and shoulder unhunch themselves. It’s time to sit down at my computer and see if the words will flow.