Petty stuff

Early in my life, I couldn’t help believing there was a little more to life somewhere else. Of course, I was seeking something grander in the usual, industrial sense. A few decades later, I finally recognize that there is a little more to life somewhere else, especially if that somewhere else is beyond civilization.

Now I fear we’ve said all there is to say, and that we will keep talking but not acting. At what point will we listen to our hearts? That’s what I need to know. Not knowing is turning me inside out.

Although we don’t talk too much about it, ain’t no real big secret what we’re doing to our only home. Mother Earth is screaming: Don’t do me like that! Yet we keep drumming away, the path of destruction in our wake obvious to all but the willfully ignorant. If Earth has memory, it’s not going to be easy to forget about us.

We often forget nature satisfies our every need. But when I look at the stars on a clear night I’m reminded she’s all I need tonight. And every night. For me, termination of the ongoing omnicide can’t come fast enough. Indeed, the waiting is the hardest part.

I got lucky. You got lucky. We all got lucky. We were born into this world, at this time in history. We are witness to the worst of times as the industrial economy drives 200 species to extinction every day, as human-population overshoot increases at the rate of more than 200,000 people every day, as we ratchet up climate chaos every day, as we destroy non-industrial cultures at an accelerating rate, as we wash soil into the world’s oceans, as we foul the air, as we pollute the water, as more than a billion people go hungry every day. But we’ll get to see the living planet make a comeback, too. If only we don’t come around here no more, weapons of mass destruction at the ready.

For my part, you could stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down. Actually, we’re already poised at the gates of hell, although the world’s governments and media have been protecting us from that news. Meanwhile, I’ll keep runnin’ down a dream that never would come to me, rolling on as the sky grows dark. Trying to save what’s left, before there’s nothing left.

The living planet is free falling. Our future, if we have one, will require considerable creativity and flexibility. Metaphorically, we’ll be learning to fly, as I’ve been doing for the last several years.

We’re heading into the great wide open. I feel summer creeping in, and it feels like Mary Jane’s last dance. There’s something in the air: We’ve got to get together sooner or later because the revolution’s here.


The songs in this essay are presented in the same order they appear on the Greatest Hits album by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Full album is here. An earlier, self-indulgent attempt to describe my life in song is here.


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath.


It’s your last chance to support Mike Sosebee’s film. To learn more, click here. Final trailer is embedded below.


I was interviewed on Shift Shapers radio Wednesday, 30 May 2012. Podcast will be posted in this space within a week or so. Until then, the one-minute trailer is here.

Comments 42

  • Metaphorically, we’ll be learning to fly, as I’ve been doing for the last several years.

    Intentionality is the sine qua non for success when attempting the seemingly impossible.

    Jonathan Livingston Seagull is a novella about a seagull. 

    Jonathan befriends the wisest gull in this new place, named Chiang, who takes him beyond his previous learning, teaching him how to move instantaneously to anywhere else in the Universe. The secret, Chiang says, is to “begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”

  • Meanwhile, somewhere very close to your homestead, New Mexico burns.

  • When we’re tired and down again,
    And the end comes to kill the pain,
    As we exit this plane,
    We might hear the refrain
    Of the last dance with Mary Jane.

  • The challenge was to be positive and not suggest anything verboten! :D

  • Guy told me yesterday by email, that the fire is north of him,and
    that he is safely out of the danger zone.

    Double D

  • Acronym Finder

    BTD Bored To Death
    BTD Battle Training Division (US Army)
    BTD Bridge to Decision
    BTD Big Truck Driver
    &c., etc.

  • Someone is beginning to catch on…at least a little

  • BTD – Benjamin the Donkey

  • BTD is an acronym name
    To type less letters my aim
    It only refers
    To a name the recurs
    Benjamin of NBL fame

  • smiles all around here today, it seems.

    thanks robin for acronym finder. i too wondered what btd meant.

    turns out i didn’t have to take kitty to the vet after all. she appeared to go into a coma and be nearing death (shallow breathing), so i cancelled the vet. appointment and began a death vigil, checking on her every half hour or so. after a few hours, her time came, and a most remarkable thing happened. minutes before she died, she lifted her head and with eyes wide open and normal looking, looked towards me but not at me and gave out a plaintive mournful ‘meow’, before lying her head back down. i’ve heard of such instances where dying humans have a sudden final moment of conscious lucidity. apparently the same applies to cats. she said good bye to the world. remarkable. it makes her memory more poignant.

  • “Actually, we’re already poised at the gates of hell, although the world’s governments and media have been protecting us from that news.”

    Are they protecting themselves from the news as well? If not do they have a plan to save themselves? Or are they insane, unable to see that the earth is their source of life? Oh well, let them eat money…. They may bring us all down with themselves but those of us who have chosen to live closer to the earth will have gained something they could never begin to understand.

    Meanwhile the rhetoric on Syria ratchets up a few notches (Victor I might win my bet) but the sun is also ratcheting up and may take the plans of the powerful and smash them with some of its immense power – we loom large in our own minds but we are so very puny…..

    from spaceweather dot com
    “CORONAL HOLE: Spewing solar wind, a yawning dark fissure in the sun’s atmosphere is turning toward Earth. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the “coronal hole” during the early hours of June 1st:
    Coronal holes are places where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows the solar wind to escape. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole will reach Earth on June 5th – 7th, possibly stirring geomagnetic storms. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras”

  • TVT (The Virgin Terry) sorry for your loss, but glad your kitty is no longer in pain. Glad that her passing went in a way that gives you some comfort.

  • Guy, any news on the fire in relation to you and the mud hut?

  • No news from the mud hut from me. I’m in Oceanside, where I’m delivering a presentation this afternoon.

  • Nice piece Guy. We would all be well served to remember that it is the “petty stuff” that enables us to keep soldiering on through this storm. Stuff like the well tuned turn of a phrase…, keep ’em coming partner.

    The Quillayute Cowboy

  • Humanity is just so intelligent:

    China to restart nuclear power program

    “(Financial Times) — Beijing has indicated that it will lift its year-long moratorium on new nuclear projects in a move that will breathe life into an industry plagued by uncertainty since the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactor last year.

    China’s cabinet announced it had approved the 2020 nuclear strategy, finalised new safety standards and finished inspecting the country’s existing nuclear plants. After the Japanese nuclear crisis China suspended approvals of new reactors while it conducted safety inspections and drafted new regulations.

    As the world’s largest energy user China is key to setting the direction of future global nuclear expansion. Beijing’s latest announcement marks a major step towards the full resumption of its nuclear building programme, which accounts for 40 per cent of global reactors under construction today.

    “This is the main hurdle,” said Guo Shou, energy analyst at Barclays. “Approvals for new nuclear reactors are around the corner, they are going to come very, very soon.”

  • Great interview trailer with Mike and Karen. I for one really appreciate their pointing out that many of us are “privileged” in that we currently still have the means and a window of opportunity to adjust.

    Love the Tom Petty. Here is another tune that rolls through my head daily (from Steely Dan)

    In the night you hide from the madman
    You’re longing to be
    But it all comes out on the inside

    Knock twice, rap with your cane
    Feels nice, you’re out of the rain
    We got your skinny girl
    Here at the Western World


    Antonio Damasio: The quest to understand consciousness

    We all woke up this morning and we had with it the amazing return of our conscious mind. We recovered minds with a complete sense of self and a complete sense of our own existence — yet we hardly ever pause to consider this wonder.”

  • Victor I might win my bet


    Gonna be a photo finish…but however it ends, we all lose…

  • We recovered minds with a complete sense of self and a complete sense of our own existence — yet we hardly ever pause to consider this wonder.”

    Amen to that, Navid. Indeed, we seldom pause to consider that we woke up at all!…. ;-)

  • Thanks Navid for posting the Damasio clip. Damasio and Ramachandran don’t just study the mind, they also treat patients while learning from their injuries. If I had a brain injury I don’t think I could ask for a finer Dr. than either of these men. Ramachandran invented a way to help people with amputations relieve phantom limb pain using mirrors.

    This is being used to help many veterans “In another novel approach, researchers have used mirror therapy with some success to alleviate pain in amputated hands, arms, and feet. Mirror therapy works by having a patient watch himself move his intact limb in a mirror, and positioning the mirror in such a way to give the appearance that the missing limb is still intact. No one yet knows exactly why this helps reduce pain, but some researchers suspect that brain cells on the side of the body that have not been injured are activated by this visual stimulation. Others hypothesize that the visual appearance of movement in the amputated limb may reduce the activity of pain-sensing pathways.”

  • And you believe Heaven and Hell exist? Two Minds – One Body

  • I can’t think of any Tom Petty songs that go with this . . .

    Funny what a difference 12 hours can make. Yesterday afternoon I posted on my blog about how my goats and my dogs are all getting along so well (cute picture alert!). Then, this morning, about 4:30, my dog (a Rotweiller) woke me up to be let out. About 6:30, her unusually frenetic barking finally broke through to my conscious mind. I got up to check on her only to discover that somehow she had gotten into the goats’ pen and was pushing around what appeared to be a dead three-month-old Norwegian pygmy goat named Martha. Fortunately, after much yelling and excitement and getting the dog out of the pen, I discovered that Martha was unharmed – physically anyway – but was “playing dead”. I think it’s a defense mechanism similar to that which young deer use. She has since returned to her usual cute self, albeit still quite dirty from being tossed about in the dirt.

    Unfortunately, one of my favorite hens, a Rhode Island Red, didn’t fare so well. It wasn’t the dog, rather likely a opossum. Sadly, that pesky critter figured out how to get into my “fort knox” chicken yard and made off with a friendly, pretty, productive hen. Sigh.

    These were a pair of real “heartbreakers”. Oh wait! I did tie it in to Tom Petty. :-)

  • TRDH

    Though filled with beauty Nature is tough and unforgiving, isn’t it! Sorry for the hen.

  • TRDH, if it was an opossum it is fairly easy to trap the critters. Use a live animal trap of a size that will accommodate a possum. Bait it with cooked chicken or other meat. Make sure your dog can’t get it to. (perhaps one of your neighbors or patients would have one you can borrow). We haul any we catch off some miles away. They have been the easiest critters for us to catch. Never yet have I trapped an Armadillo. Of course if you see it and get it cornered you can club it, sic your dog on it, shoot it, and my husband says you can pick it up without getting bit if you can grab it firmly by the neck at the base of the head.

    Of course if you haven’t actually seen the ‘possum you could also be dealing with raccoons, ferrets, or foxes. Welcome to the world of everything that can kill a chicken.

  • I love the Tom Petty theme of this post. Petty’s a genius.

    There’s a scene in that Kevin Costner adaptation of “The Postman” where Costner rides up to an enclave in the mountains built into an old hydroelectric dam. When he gets there the leader comes out to greet him and it’s Tom Petty. Costner says something like “Hey, I know you. You were famous,” and Petty responds with “I was once… sorta.. kind of.” I haven’t read the Brin novel so can’t say if Petty was in the book. I’d guess not.

  • del, I think Petty was not in the book. The book is far better than the movie (as is often the case).

  • Victor – just to be clear, that quote is from the link, not me. But I do agree – for me sometimes I’m not sure I’m awake (TVT’s surreal).

    Kathy, thanks for the videos. The Heaven and Hell video helps explain the source of our cognitive dissonance, maybe. The phantom-limb stuff is incredible – we can learn to tame the little “zen-trickster” in our minds – maybe ; )

  • Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight

    “on the morning of my stroke….” (@ ~ 6 min the “wow” part starts)

  • Guess I may have to boot up the tower for a change: the comments refer to links in the post. Of the videos linked and embedded, only the embedded ones are playable on the iPhone 3G.

  • Update on why I have been away from NBL recently.

    My various submissions to NPDC resulted in almost two entire volumes totally nearly 400 pages, covering financial, economic, environmental and social issues connected with the Draft Long Term Plan, and my comments highlighted the near total lack of planning for financial collapse, energy decline and changing climate. Indeed, as is hte case almost everywhere, the ‘plan’ is to continue using fossil fuels till there are none left, continue building Easter Island statues, and continue wrecking the habibitability of the Earth

    In the time allocated for speaking was ridiculously short, and systems and operator failures didn’t help.

    Thursday 31st May at 2:32 for those interested.

    I managed to get reality on the agenda for about 15 minutes. The good news is, several district councillors are awake to most of it now.

    Looking forward to Guy coming towards the end of the month.

  • Kevin, you are amazing in your dogged persistence!

  • I second that, Kathy….respect indeed…and much admiration.

  • Kevin,

    Thanks for sharing the video of your presentation to your local council. I had some trouble locating the portion where you have a go; it’s at 1hr 32 mins into the linked video in case others had similar trouble.

    It was obvious to me that the fellow I believe you referred to as the Mayor (the older guy with the goatee) wanted nothing to do with your presentation; his annoyance thinly veiled. I didn’t get the feeling they thought you were a nut, rather they are perturbed and disarmed by the data you presented and the implications for their BAU plans. The smart ass reply, that they were saving the environment by not printing the handout you expressly requested they all be provided a copy of, must have been a test of your patience. The absurdity of that statement was an insult to everyone’s intelligence.

    How long was the question period? It would seem your Q&A session conveniently didn’t make the cut.

  • Thanks for the supportive comments.

    The Q&A sessions was brief. I got asked two questions; one allowed me to say whay a particular person was NOT the right one to provide advice on the ‘transition process’; the other was with reagard to specific suggestions I had to get a permaculuture education centre underway in New Plymouth.

    Yes, the mayor is a technophile and an agent of global corporations and money-lenders, so he was not keen to hear what I had to say. I’d had two major altercations with him prior to the meeting. And two with the CEO. I accused both of them of sabotaging their own children’s futures.

    Several councillors are clearly very worried about the continuing losses witnessed on world markets and how such losses will impact locally very soon. And the comments in the local paper continue to hammer the council.

    In all honesty I am not too concerned now. Every day that passes the mayor and the CEO dig deeper holes for themsleves, and more and more poeple are recognising the continuous dysfunction that for what it is.

  • Oops.

    and more and more poeple are recognising the continuous dysfunction for what it is.

    By the way, I see that the Athens market has now lost 90% of its 2007 value.

    It’s good to be reminded what a ‘cliff’ looks like

  • I am always and increasingly impressed at the intelligence of the Republican party…. :-)

    Quote from article:

    Once upon a time, the great King Canute, strolling on a beach with his courtiers, ordered the waves to halt. Yet they kept on coming. It was a lesson intended for the monarch’s fawning sycophants. Canute was showing them that there are limits to power. Even a king can’t stop the sea!

    This lesson seems to have been lost on the members of North Carolina’s legislature. They are getting ready to vote on a bill that would prohibit government agencies from preparing for the estimated three feet rise in coastal sea levels which a state-appointed science panel has predicted will occur before the end of the current century.

    Not only that, but the forecast of the experts may soon be stricken from the public record– because it takes into account the impact of Global Warming. And Global Warming isn’t happening, right?

  • I’ve posted a new guest essay. It’s here, courtesy of Nathan Dunn.

  • Kevin, cliffs? cliffs? aren’t those the things that lemmings run over when their population gets too large?

  • Thank you, Mr. Moore, for the link to the video. Your presentation starts at 1:33:33 into the video. One of the councillors describes the presentation as “inspiring”. It would quite likelt be “perspiring” once the crocodile of reality chomps down on the folks that are deep in “de Nile”. To the regulars at NBL, these hoops of the new paradigm are as familiar as another set of hoops are to the other NBL. What is still amazing is the continued participation en masse in the water sports – diving deep into “de Nile”.

  • Thanks Kevin for your lucid and clearly spoken presentation. Besides the end of cheap oil and the continuing decline of total exported oil volume, other factors mentioned by Heinberg are excess demand from excess population and the decline of other resources such as Ocean Fish. The Fiat money system has been shown to be a one off unsustainable ponzi scheme,ultimately a fantasy which mainly enriches the already rich through interest charges.It has hit the brick wall and collapse is happening and the ponzi scheme operators are trying to maintain it off the backs of ordinary people: austerity. Ultimately all our futures are a Cuban one hopefully which country has successfully coped with the end of cheap fuel and supply cut-off.

    Those Councillors are comfortable imbedded in their cosy overpaid positions, they’re old and I think despite having children their attitude is “It’s not my problem and I honestly don’t care, except it hits my bank balance and status- let future generations sort it out!”

    Basically they maintain: “same old…same old…same old… ad infinitum….rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb etc. system”

    You should be the Mayor Kevin but in an order resistant to change and the logic clearly shows the need of it You’ll never get there until its too late.