March 27, 2010

The Perilometer

I invented my Perilometer in the dark days of winter 2007 in response to a general sense of peril that I was experiencing. I had been the watching mainstream media for a few weeks and was surprised that no warnings were forthcoming, no headlines of impending doom, or suggestions for how to be prepared for what I felt was coming our way - a radical change in the way we see ourselves and our relation to stuff and the planet that supports it all.

Then 2008 limped into view, and complete with it a generous amount of good old-fashioned peril. Serious and immediate danger seemed everywhere for everyone. You know things are bad when for a short period of time the rich don't get richer. Things were crumbling, and lies were being exposed, and the biggest lie was that an economy and lifestyle based on MORE was sustainable.

Those who profit from stroking our desires have been telling us for almost 100 years that our consuming 35 times the resources of the average global citizen was NOT having a negative effect on other people or the environment. 2008 marked the beginning of the end of this excessive party, and at the time my Perilometer needle was registering somewhere between "Muscle Twitches" and "Strong Desire To Flee".

Naturally, our inclination is to keep the instrument needle as close to "No Peril" as possible. Having said that, peril has always been a fact of life on earth. Whether sabre tooth tigers, floods, or Og from the cave next door running after you wielding a large club, peril has always been around to some degree.

Modern life protects us, mostly, from one set of perilous situations (nature), and trades it for another even more perilous set (affluent, busy, technological lifestyles). It is highly unlikely you will be eaten by a bear or wolf, but you might get eaten by the potentially perilous demands of modern life. Now we deal with the perils of heart attacks, diabetes, trillions of dollars of cash vanishing into thin air, housing markets crashing, and people losing jobs at the highest rate since the Great Depression. Perilous times, indeed.

We can minimize the effects of a constant sense of peril, and we must because an ongoing sense of danger is highly stressful and can lead to disease and unhappiness. I figure somewhere between "No Peril" and "Mild Peril" is sufficient to keep us awake and relatively stress-free.

When I feel my Peril Rating climb to the point of "Adrenaline Rush" these are a few things I do:

  • Review my personal preparation plan to be able to take care of myself and my family in the event of an emergency (end of globalism, earthquake, power outage, global climate change, fall of capitalism...)
  • stay away from TV and online news
  • go for a walk or hike or bike ride (leave the earbuds at home and listen to nature and the pounding of your own heart)
  • stretch, deep breathe, meditate
  • play guitar, sing, dance, shake and be silly
  • take action to implement positive change in my life
  • talk to friends and family and work on building a strong community network

The coming decades promise to be quite different than the ones we passed in relative luxury while everything crumbled behind the scenes. Now many dangers can no longer be hidden or ignored, and our eyes have been opened. We should be aware of serious and immediate dangers, and have plans for dealing with them. Then we need to implement the best plans to the best of our ability. Having done that we can relax, knowing that we are doing what we can, where we are at, with what we have. What else can we do?

Hope you are having a Low Peril day, and if not, that my suggestions to mitigate it are useful.

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