Letters Home from the Edge 1: Stepping Off
I’m writing to you now at 5.30am, stood on the most eastern edge of the UK, looking out across the still dark, pre-dawn English Channel towards mainland Europe. This morning I head east, by ferry to the Hook of Holland, the first step on a journey that will see me attempt to get the whole way round our small planet by land and sea only. No planes. Just by boat, train, bus, moped, hitchhiking, my own two feet, by any means possible.
And I’m going for a simple reason. To visit those places in the world most at risk from climate change and ecological collapse. To bear witness to what is happening and to understand first hand the human and emotional impacts of this. How the body, my body, the bodies of those people who exist on the edge are coming to terms with the loss of landscapes, cities, homes, ways of life that have, until this century, felt for the greater part at least, certain, unmovable.
I speak to you of the body here because it is in the body where our experiences of climate change and ecological collapse remain unprocessed, where grief and fear for what is happening and what is to come continues to whirl, unchecked. And for me, what this grief and fear do is to create paralysis, a state where the body is unable to act, whether that be to tackle tomorrow’s climate change or to continue to function normally in the here and now.
For the last eight years I have existed in this state. And it led to my health deteriorating, manifesting first through clinical depression and anxiety into M.E/ Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. So that up until eight months ago I was unable to walk further than fifty metres or talk for more than a few minutes before having to retreat to the cocoon of my bedroom, my safe space away from the world.
But then, eight months ago something shifted. I begun to understand how the root cause of my form of M.E was in fact anxiety, or rather what the base of anxiety is: fear. Fear of judgement, fear of being unloved, fear of the world collapsing around me. And gradually, I began to work against this fear, to painstakingly push out from those walls my mind had unwittingly created. By making those fears conscious. By facing them fully. By coming to a place of acceptance for what is now.
What I have found miraculous is that in finding acceptance around climate change and ecological collapse, rather than creating apathy, gives me more energy to act, more will to go on. To find out what the right questions are and have the courage to ask them. However scared I might be of the response.
So here I stand, about to step out across the sea into the unknown again. I don’t know what to expect or really what I hope to achieve. All I know is that some journeys, you feel you have to go on regardless, and this, for a long time has felt like one of them. I can’t say exactly what my journey will offer you. Perhaps some insight, perhaps some moments of contemplation, of reconciliation, of coming to terms with what is, perhaps even, I pray, some moments of hope. But if you feel inclined to come along with me, then I’d love to have your company along the way.
I’ll be posting letters home to the UK and sending an e-letter every couple of weeks for which you can sign up to here -https://tinyletter.com/LettersFromtheEdge
I’ll also be keeping a blog and an Instagram account of the trip to keep things present and digital.
If you’d like to get in touch please do so via https://twitter.com/DominicBury or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org