As the group paddled along the waterways of the preserve, they quietly pondered the concerns raised about inhabiting The Drylands. It had been a long trip, during which they focused on meals and shelter and being together. They had learned about each other, Sharing stories whenever someone would put a hand on someone else’s shoulder while they walked. Everyone would then put a hand on the shoulder of the person nearest them. The original person would begin talking and sending images and emotions and feedback data.
Feedback data was information about all the impacts of the actions of the story. How the people and environment impacted by those actions received them. No story could be transmitted without this, any longer. During the Great Recovery, humans had learned to ask more and more questions about the ripple effects of choices. “You want to cut down that tree? How many animals reside in it? What happens to the soil below? What happens when sunshine can hit that ground all year long? What about the seeds that tree won’t produce? How many beings will not be fed? How many new trees will not come into being? How do the other trees respond? Where will the displaced animals go? How many insects will be harmed? How many other trees are being cut down and magnifying all of these impacts? What kind of energy will it take to cut down the tree? What tools will be needed to process it? What resources must be used to make or maintain those tools? What will the tree products be used for? How will those things serve us? How will they impact us and our surroundings? How do we mitigate all of these impacts so that we and the ecosystem will still flourish?…” They had to picture the answers the all the questions.
In the beginning, the process seemed interminable and intolerable. They had no choice, then. The ecosystem was so fragile that the survival of it and, therefore, themselves, required this. Humans had been rash and careless, before. There was no tolerance for that after they had nearly destroyed everything. They had been willing to torment themselves and everything else for over 20,000 years in so many cruel ways. Taking the tedious time to be considerate and have more generative solutions for meeting life’s challenges was a mild penance.
So, the worn out, straggling remains of the human population learned to Process. To slow down and hunker together and exhaust all the questions and all the stories of what similar choices made before had caused, along with what new choices might lead to. As they Processed, they experienced something more profoundly than they had been experiencing before The Aftermath: no matter how difficult the dilemma seemed, they were not alone. They were here together, facing it together, living and dying in compassion. Life was relentlessly precarious, yet they felt more vibrant, more warm, more comforted than they had before. By the time they entered the era of The Great Recovery, they could not imagine giving up this wondrous aspect of life and returning to the emotional isolation of The Long Decimation.
It was this realization about how vital it was to remain compassionately connected to one another and all that they contacted and impacted that led to The Process and The Wading. The Process was for working through today’s challenges by collecting all the concerns and ideas and generating solutions which would do no harm and serve the most fragile. The Wading was for remembering why they had determined to approach life this way. During The Aftermath, there were people who had lived through the end of The Long Decimation. They would share stories of how horrifying life had been. But, those people were soon gone and it would have been too easy to forget. So, people gathered stories and artifacts and made the time to remember. They learned to extract history from the artifacts; to be able to see what it represented, how it had interacted with the world, what the people had experienced with it. In places, such as Manhattan, where there was a dense collection of remnants of The Long Decimation, people could get a much clearer, more complex sense of anything in history.
It took nearly 500 years for The Process to become so ingrained that communication about experiences and ideas transformed into Sharing – the emission of images, emotions and the feedback data, along with the verbal expression.
After about 1,000 years of making it a practice to remember, they had developed this capacity to Wade – to stand together and let their consciousness wade through time and experience the history as if they were immersed in it. They never knew what piece of history they would experience. They had learned that it was meaningful and helped The Process and reminded them of the potential they did not want to actuate again. It was both painful and healing, as it erased any doubts they may have harbored in their bodies about the principles they were living by, now.
The group had Shared while traveling and felt well-connected. As they got closer to Manhattan, it was time to prepare for Wading the Clarifying Waters. Before entering they reviewed and contemplated the question of inhabiting The Drylands. Could people access enough water and food without modifying the landscape? Where would they dwell? How nomadic would they need to be? Could they co-habitate with the flora and fauna? What kind of stressors could push them off-balance and into damaging behaviors? How many people should go, at first? What was the capacity of The Drylands? How would the people of the Drylands remain connected to the rest of us? How might they change in response to their environment? Can we embrace those changes? What do they need to take with them?
The day before they entered Manhattan had been a day of silent contemplation of all these questions. Today, they would Wade and see what history had to offer before they started forming responses.