Disclaimer: this post is metaphorical. The universal relationship challenges in a committed relationship are being compared to the challenge of gaining natural intelligence — the ebb and flow of desire to become aware of, and committed to serving, Truth. The investigation of climate science and developing a sense of awe for the mystery of ecosystems is kin to self-reflection through our intimate relationships. Humans are being called to “listen” to and partner with such ecosystems in a more mature, respectful manner.

Who, other than children with hormones that have yet to kick in, doesn’t enjoy great sex (even if it has been a while)? Can we agree that we all would enjoy healthy, mutually responsive, adoring, hot and steamy sex? If so, this is a good start to a decent climate change conversation. Why? Because we all have to find a place of open and honest mutuality, or common ground, so that the important work at hand can get underway. Yesterday.

1. Sex Is Amazing

So let’s get specific. Great sex is a win-win. Let’s first assume, for this scenario, two people have been having great sex for many years – like “forever” – but recently it has become painfully evident that one partner is not feeling altogether supported and nurtured.

This partner is raging inside and has learned quickly that the blame game, wagging a finger in the face of the other partner, or any manner of emotional tirade is ineffective at reaching into the heart of the matter. Now this partner carefully tries to explain the felt dis-ease in their relationship with ever greater clarity, detailed examples, timing the conversations at moments when there is no pressing urgency at hand, and when it is possible to be open, compassionate, patient and graceful. These moments are found to be remarkably hard to find, putting a real damper on progress. AND when this partner does find such moments, the other partner takes a long time to get the gist of the conversations; progress — which is the sense of unity and “being on the same page” — takes an awfully long time. Exhaustion thwarts the desire to understand and care.

In any partnership, there will be one person who is more progressive and one who is more conservative. In this particular scenario, there is a wide gap in their perspectives, but it is miraculously beginning to narrow – even in today’s political “boxing” ring of media discourse. The progressive partner is the one who is long been advocating for mature responsible discussion to help resolve their growing sense of dis-ease (like the progressive activists advocating on behalf of the planet, our collective home). The conservative partner has long been denying any problem in the relationship because things have been good for so long (like the conservative denier of our climate crisis advocating for business as usual). The bedroom is no place to fight. How can we approach the topic of climate with the same respect we show a lover?

2. Nature Is Amazing

A second point we can all agree on is elemental. Call it chemistry or nature, thermodynamics or ecosystem, the amazing adaptivity of the earth’s elements teaches us — perhaps more than any human can fully appreciate — the essence of our true nature, our spirit, how to be alive and in relationship.

There are FIVE key elements in Chinese medicine – Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire –

In one direction of this cycle, in harmony with the natural cycle of the seasons, each element nurtures and supports the other elements; in the opposite direction, each element consumes and destroys the other elements.

An interesting thing about humans is our capacity to be, think, and act like these elements. We can be solid and inflexible like metal, we can be fluid and easily swayed like water, we can be strong and growing like wood, we can be generous and dynamic like earth, and we can burn passionately and consume like fire. Each element we embody has the potential for positive and negative consequences. How are we attending to our elemental nature?

3. Gender is Amazing

The third point for universal agreement is that sex, naked, is obvious. Male and Female have simple, distinct physical differences — such as outward versus inward sexual organs. This has often led the male to behave in outward, expressive ways and the female to behave in inward, reflexive ways (separate from the immense continuum of masculine and feminine energies within all of us). Both sexes have the innate potential to complement the other. But our Western “developed” cultural reverence for the outward and expressive is extremely out of balance with the (lack of) reverence for the inward and reflective. How can our interpersonal interactions help to restore this balance? Perhaps we can learn to hold the nature of duality more gently in our mental constructs.

With our elemental nature out of balance, our intimate relationships are stressed, along with our oceanic, atmospheric, terrestrial, and core ecosystems. All of these relationships have become exceptionally vulnerable, all are in need of our collective attention.

Let’s take mature, responsible initiative and start these important conversations with our partner… who knows such action just might have direct benefit to the climate and be more than a good idea, metaphorically speaking.

Our planet, for all intents and purposes, is our penultimate marriage partner.

And please enjoy this video performance of “Wait of the World”, a poem I wrote and recently performed for climate leaders in the Pioneer Valley:

With love and peace, Karen

P.S. While we’re on the subject, let me give a posthumous shout out to the amazing Dr. Lynn Margulis for her pioneering work on Sex (and Gaia theory and symbiogenesis). She radically shifted the concept of binary gender. She promoted a taxonomy inclusive of all forms of life, including microbial life, and a view of evolution that emphasizes symbiosis over adaptation and cooperation over competition.