When I woke up this morning I decided to ride my bike to my studio for the first time. I’ve just arrived after riding a few miles across country from our Wiltshire village. I feel completely wiped out, and exhilarated.
I’m not the fittest of people, not sporty in the slightest, but there’s something about cycling that appeals to me. Last year I made my first artwork about cycling, or at least the first artwork made from the viewpoint of a cyclist. See more about Heavenly Body in the #ArtAfterTurner exhibition here.
It’s easy to dismiss single individual actions as meaningless, but as I wrote in my last blogpost, all our actions count and are all needed, so I’ve decided to start looking for ways to reduce my use of my car.
‘…even the smallest of act, with clear intention, has repercussions throughout the web of life.’
Active Hope – J Macy and C Johnstone
I’ve written a lot about Climate Breakdown and the associated Ecological Crisis recently. The trouble is, writing and reading about crises and catastrophes all the time can leave you in a state of fight or flight, ready to act. We do need urgent action, but feeling like that all the time is not sustainable long term. (Thank you to Judith Rodgers for our conversation on this at the In The Round preview)
In the last month or so, I’ve been reading and digesting, firing out tweets and blogposts, sounding the alert, trying to wake people up. Now I realise I also need to experience connection and remember that the world is still beautiful, it is still there and what I have starting grieving for hasn’t yet gone. Not all of it, not yet.
I’ve mentioned the Active Hope book before, and I keep noticing connections between what this book has taught me, and other conversations that I’ve had recently. What keeps coming up, is the need to stay connected as well as to feel the pain of the world, and to slow down in a time or emergency, which can feel counterintuitive.
‘By refreshing our sense of belonging in the world, we widen the web of relationships that nourish us and protect us from burnout.’
My cycle ride today is one piece in the puzzle of making personal changes to my life to reduce my carbon footprint, but equally it is about slowing down and noticing the world around me; the blossom, the Red Kite flying over, the pattern of ripples on the canal, the Chaffinch calling from the hedge. It reminds me of the beauty of the world that I am seeking to protect, that I am a part of that world, and that I need to care for myself too.