Jibstay

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Solastalgia

Glenn Albrecht has coined a new word: "solastalgia" from solacium (comfort) and algia (pain). His discovery is in the latest edition of "Wired" magazine in an article on "Global Mourning".  Albrecht has been doing studies on fellow Australians who are grieving the loss of their familiar environment: dry spell, coral reef death, agricultural changes. Their reaction is that they are getting sad that their familiar surroundings are leaving them. "Their environment is moving away from them, and they miss it terribly." Albrecht calls solastalgia "a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at home." 
This has been a year for it for all of us all over the country: from the ling drought and fires in California to the floods in the heartland, and now tremendous winter storms. It's not like it was, and we miss it. We live with this assumption about an entitlement to stability, at least reliability. And when it's not there, we get sad. I can't help but think of the millions of people in Bangaladesh and other low-lying regions in the world who are losing land due to flooding. I think of this past summer and the heat waves in Europe and the USA, and the challenge of coping with the new. 
Is this an opportunity for believers? How freed are we from our environments, without become ranters and ravers, but internally freed from weather dependancy? Can we shift attention to what really is reliable and dependent? Can we point out what is eternally stable in a shifting world? Can we do so without being smug and flip, but sensitive to how tough it is to cope in a changing world?

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