Tagged: developing world

3:06AM: Sleepless In Seattle

4/30/13 – 3:06AM

I can’t sleep. It’s 3:06AM and I’m uncharacteristically sleepless in Seattle. A little aloof. Frustrated. Staring out the window at the sky. My mind is racing, running on the hundred some-odd things I give myself to worry about. Exactly zero of them are being solved right now, at 3:06AM.

Night city

The clouds and dim stars, obscured by orange city lights, do lend their perspective. But it’s not the type of perspective I’m usually soothed by. Yes…I am so small, my problems seemingly insignificant. Even the city-scarred stars tell me that. There is an element of truth in it, but it doesn’t bring the comfort of a warm blanket. Instead I see as clearly as ever that this ride is on its way to the middle of somewhere we’ve never been before, and we’re all strapped in. The perspective that should calm my racing mind with the assurance that my problems aren’t problems –that the Universe has a colossal ticking order which is unaffected by my worry –instead leaves me feeling uncomfortably fastened to the side of a rocket like Major T.J. King Kong.

Connected for better or worse. And maybe that is the key: we are all connected. No matter what, we all breathe the same air. My exhalation finds it way through the carbon cycle and turns into your inhalation. To what extreme lengths can someone insulate themself from our connectedness? How can one avoid the consequences of climate chaos? Sure, for a select few there’s always the option to hide out. Guarded by private militias, drinking filtered water and breathing filtered air. They have ceased to be connected to me and I to them. Alone on a planet full of people.

For the rest of us, we share a common destiny. Why is it that the poorest among us, with the least material wealth, grasp so easily and so intimately the looming consequences of our collective actions? My guess: community and connectedness. It’s well documented that societies which lack material wealth make up for it with rich levels of community and familial bonding. Could inter-generational cohabitation correlate with community and concurrently influence the willingness of societies to act on climate change?


People who have yet to experience the fruits of Western industrial labor are willing to cast it aside. These are communities that will simply leapfrog into the next iteration of humanity.

If nothing else, just remember that climate change is not an “environmentalist” issue. Instead, try to think of it as an “I-am-alive-and-I-live-on-this-Earth” issue.

When I rest, I will rest easier knowing that it still seems to be within the constructs of human instinct to self-preserve. This is the good news that my sleepless night brought to me. We are all beautifully connected. So say the clouds and the city-scarred stars.