Finding renewed energy to engage in deeply adaptive action
Although I wasn’t able to participate in the 2021 DAF Conscious Learning Festival as much as I wanted, it has been very useful to me, and has brought me meaningful new insights, thoughts and feelings.
For a start, I was able to experience a sense of deep connection and fellowship with other participants, who were all complete strangers. I found regular spaces in which to acknowledge my painful feelings related to our predicament, and feel understood.
Being in these spaces also made me realise that in spite of the dire situation, I was alive! For example, I was very inspired by Jane Dwinell’s Q&A, during which she described building tiny houses on her land, and helping refugees in Lesbos. This pulled me out of my sense of helplessness and hopelessness, and prompted me to reflect deeply on what kind of generative action I might do with my own life.
I felt concerned about talking about Deep Adaptation around me, because I didn’t want to drop bombs into people’s emotional worlds. But in one of the Festival calls, someone in a Zoom breakout room said I could think of it in terms of planting seeds, not dropping bombs. I remembered that I’d spent much of my clinical career having difficult conversations with people, and sensed a renewed sense of courage – I could do this!
I write for the Irish Times occasionally. So I got back in touch with the editor, and suggested I could write a follow-up piece to one I wrote in 2019 on parenting and the climate crisis. I wanted to touch on the latest IPCC report, Caroline Hickman’s research, COP26 – and lay special emphasis on Deep Adaptation and the 4 Rs. The editor eventually wrote back enthusiastically, so I wrote the article. It was published on November 8, 2021, under the title: “Response to climate emergency set to shape our children’s future,” with the subtitle: “Concept of deep adaptation could prove a useful tool for coping with challenging change.” I wrote it specifically with parents in mind.
The article generated some interesting feedback – interesting in terms of the fact that I was prepared for all sorts… but not expressions of gratitude. I’m just pleased that it’s out there now and available if/when needed.
Recently, I have been able to sneak Deep Adaptation onto the syllabus for for a brand new Module at the University on our Nursing Programme: “Sustainability and Global Public Health.” The Irish Times article was key in getting this over the line as acceptable content.
A conversation with Wendy also inspired me with the idea of launching climate cafés based on solution-focused practice, which is the therapeutic modality that I specialise in. A colleague and I will be offering this cafés for the Nursing Students taking the new module.
I have also started working on an online course on parenting in uncertain times, which I am aiming to deliver later this year. Besides, I’ve been commissioned to write a book chapter – working title “For Our Children’s Future – Solution Focused Practice At The Edge Of Despair” – for a work called Holding The Hope.
I feel quite keen to crack on with these endeavours. Knowing that I am not alone in this mindset and intention helps me to keep going.
I’m done with leaving emotions like terror, guilt, or shame, are in my driving seat. It’s fine for them to be in the car, but I’d rather they be passengers. I think cautious optimism may now be in the driving seat – optimism about the beautiful aspects of humanity, and the desire to embody these qualities and fight for them.