Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 8

Weather: raining when I arrived, getting lighter and heavier throughout my time there. Just stopping and clearing as I walked home.

Number of people: 12 stoppers, 1 drive-by

Number of hecklers: 1, sort of — a climate change trivializer who wouldn’t quit

Pages of notes: 9

People who recognized and commented on the Peanuts reference: 1

People who were real sticklers about putting in exactly a nickel: 2

Money raised for Environmental Justice League of RI: $2.97



No one has ever asked directly what the money in the jar is for.

I’m “adapting” to the project, learning better strategies — putting the umbrella where I can get an elbow around it in case of wind, for example.

It’s okay to stop writing and hang onto the umbrella sometimes.


Some conversations: 

It’s been on my mind recently because of this project. I saw something online about a protest in NY in September. … It feels like we’ve kept on hearing about this for years and now we’re really realizing it’s here and a problem, when it’s too late for collaborative change, too late to have much of an effect, reversing it or slowing–well, not slowing it, but stopping it. I guess it’s not surprising, it’s such an enormous thing. I think people push it to the back of their minds and worry about it a little when they read things in the New York Times, because to address it, they’d need to change the entire society.

Why is it easier for us to imagine everything dying, blank ocean, blank land, than it is for us to imagine changing society?

That’s a good question. On an individual level, if people aren’t willing to commit their whole lives to this, why should they expect other people to be able to–and some people aren’t in a position to. It seems like the problem is basically the way capitalism is–the whole logic that the only thing that matters is making a profit and continuous expansion. Even reforms, things like green energy, they’re still trying to be like, “This is the future, you need to invest in this now and make more money.”

So keeping that in mind–that profit motive–what are things that people can do within that, or alongside that, to take responsibility for each other, and for other things, places?

If people reorient their value systems — see inherent value in an ecosystem, in animals and plants living — their lives will start to organize around this idea, both within the world of consumption and outside it. Forming points of community beyond the profit motive, like religion, or family. But I feel like those things aren’t as strong as they used to be.


Are the poles really melting, and it’s gonna raise the seas? So we’re gonna lose Manhattan, Nag’s Head? It doesn’t matter! There’s no anxiety–you’ll be dead, I’ll be dead, and new life will come.


People moving away from the coast, losing their homes, and there’ll be a lot more sloshing around, so we’ll have to worry about a contaminated water supply … As Americans, we waste so much. And what’s happening in California is terrible.

When you think of this hard future, how do you imagine helping other people survive?

It’ll be the difference between some people surviving and other people not surviving. It’s a terrible moral tragedy and it’s occurring right now. It has to do with the upper classes winning out and overusing everything … Having everybody have their own home, their own retreat–why do people have to get away from it all? … . I think that one of the things is we could switch from an 8-hour workday to a 6-hour workday. There’d be more time for leisure, thinking, education. There’s this ideology of freedom, that people should be able to do whatever they want. I think it’s time for us to work together.


Taking the bus in the rain.

Does that make you anxious, or you just hate it?

I just hate it. The news says it’s not gonna rain and then it does rain.


I’m anxious about punctuality and being here in the last 4 minutes of your shift. I don’t know if I’m interested in climate change, but I’m here because I saw the article in the Phoenix and I was interested in this setup for public engagement … I’m afraid I’ll fail to live up to my full potential as a great artist who’s really satisfied with my own work.

What kind of artist are you now, like are you okay, or pretty good?

I’m okay. I think I could be really good if I devoted 100% of my time to my art.

Why don’t you? 

Fear of failure, fear of losing the stability that I’ve worked so hard to achieve. I have a regular job and I do regular things, and I hate it.


Today’s poem: 

What do people have

to get away from and how

to get away from what

you have and what have you

to get to heaven with

if you’re in heaven now

a cooler quieter time

than the one you had

the one you owned

the one you admitted to

were admitted to

through a gate of accident

as things like this are

organized or organize themselves

and thus as they go or have done

what you have is something

the past owns

the ancestral home

the familiar farm

the day like today

no time like the present

to know more or

to be more known

to be drawn not in

to argument (a mistake)

but into recognition so

that someone might as me

how you are and I

would have that knowledge

not forever, not for very

long but not nothing

just as if never

not actually never




4 thoughts on “Climate Anxiety Counseling: Day 8

  1. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Reflections on Week 2 | climateanxietycounseling

  2. Pingback: Climate Anxiety Counseling: Looking Back and Looking Forward | climateanxietycounseling

  3. Pingback: Alternate Histories: 5/22, 4/10 | climateanxietycounseling

  4. Pingback: Alternate Histories: | climateanxietycounseling

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