In Between the No Longer and the Not Yet: a short novel of hope

Isn’t that where we are right now? The old systems are collapsing and are no longer working. And the new ones are still in the chaos stage. No one is quite sure what it will look like — not yet.

Civilizations collapse…they do. The Incas, the Mayas, the Roman Empire, the British Empire. Western scholars have identified dozens of civilizations over the last 5000 years that have reached an apex and then ended. In the 21st century we have the hubris to think we would be immune from this happening but we’re not.

Yes, there was a glimmer of time when we had the capacity to see that we were beginning the downward spiral and needed to create and transform into new systems. But we didn’t act on it. And so that window of opportunity has come and gone.

Yes, civilizations collapse, but on the flip side, something else replaces it. And that’s going to happen again. Yes, media hype implies Armageddon, but really, is that the only option? I think not. We can begin to imagine what will be the ‘not yet’ while dealing with the breakdown of systems that are “no longer’ sufficient to help us get through these challenges.

That’s how this short novel came about. I began wondering, how can we use this time of the “In between the no longer and the not yet”?

With extra time on my hands while caregiving for a family member, I began to imagine living in a world where social, political, financial and environmental systems were breaking down and no longer able to support human life in the way we’d been accustomed. While distressful and acknowledging that there would be significant disruption for everyone (and some far more than others) I was also able to see that much like letting go of a bad marriage, good things could come out of this change. Not that it is easy but it is possible and oh, so worth it.

It seems to me, there is no point getting bogged down in trying to keep the old systems going. It’s very clear to almost all of us now that they aren’t going to be resilient enough to meet our needs. Instead, I invite you to look forward with me. Let’s imagine and design what could be. Even if these new systems are not yet ready to become our new reality, directing our attention to them is a far better use of our time than wallowing in fear and anger. We have the luxury of thinking big, to imagine systems that will be inclusive for all of the community of life.

This short novel is such an effort. About a hundred pages — so a quick read. Maybe it will prove to be an exercise in futility. Or maybe it will be an exercise in inspiration for you and others to deal with the heaviness that has so many of us feeling lost. Could the ideas within — though ‘not yet’ happening be made possible by making them visible? Or at least plant the seed of hope that by making them visible we increase their chances of being possible.