Consciousness is unexplained. We’re born and we become aware. Raised by parents or guardians, we learn where we belong. The decisions of one generation affect the futures of the next, often without conscious consideration. I’ve been thinking about how, with our limited resources, we’ve pressed on, reproducing beyond what our environment can sustain and each of us is born conscious. Some of us—many, in fact—in difficult circumstances. Instead of working together to figure this out, we keep on, not quite sure of what we’re doing or where we’re going. Heath Ledger’s Joker may’ve been speaking for all of humanity when he asked, “Do I look like a guy with a plan?” Do any of us?
During a discussion the other day the topic of the severe western drought came up. There have been general drought conditions in the western half of the country (the northwestern coast has been spared) for well over half-a-century. I wonder why the cities in such regions continue to expand and then I realize that each generation is a kind of reboot. We tend to think we belong where we’re born. My thoughts turn toward the ancestors of the first nations and how they knew that moving was necessary for life. When the ice sheets start descending you really don’t have many options. Perhaps our sense of place is an evolved trait, brought on by the changed circumstances of invaders’ senses of ownership. Capitalism certainly doesn’t help. Those born in drought-ravaged areas soon come to think of it as normal. We can adjust to just about anything.
Settled existence is necessary for a life that defines meaning by ownership. For me, I have a difficult time imagining my life without my books. What we read tends to define us. What would I do if the ice sheets began descending again? Such change takes time, of course, but our complex society doesn’t seem to be very good at advanced planning. My consciousness tells me where I belong geographically, psychologically, and even religiously. I was taught such things as a child and even if I unlearn lessons that were wrong, I will always still feel that they were right. If I flee the coming ice sheet I simply have to accept that my reality has changed. Until that ice sheet’s at my back door, however, I can continue to deny it’s a problem. Consciousness is a funny thing.