Meet Casey. Casey is the spider you see in the photograph here. Casey has a beautiful life in a strategically placed home. Strategically placed below a window lit from the inside, Casey has ample opportunity to have prey walk into his home’s security system, which also doubles as his kitchen. Casey’s home resides within my home. Casey is a welcome guest, for Casey’s immediate neighbours are my home gym and two yoga mats. Casey offers me peace of mind for five minutes or longer while in a yin-yoga pose, I do not have to worry about having a critter scamper across my forearm as I try to release tension in my glutes, quads and hip flexors while in pigeon pose. Last night, while in the said pose, I looked behind me and saw that Casey had caught an earwig and was busy trying to kill it and then prepare it for however many meals Casey could get out of his juicy victim. After twelve minutes of fighting, Casey succeeded in killing its unsuspecting prey and then did something I did not expect. Casey stopped. Casey stopped, took a break, and started conserving his energy for the next phase. This is where his house guest would then be transferred from his home security system to his kitchen which was better protected behind the base of the floor lamp, beneath the well-lit window.
This episode which unfolded right by my head reminded me about how we, as humans, as most lifeforms (I say most, though I suspect all, I am not a specialist in this field, so I shall take a somewhat conservative approach to the statement), have evolved to be efficient and to conserve energy. Where Casey made sure that a break was taken to conserve energy, the earwig, let’s call that drained corpse Jordan that is eleven feet from where I am sitting while writing this, the earwig (that used to be known to his close friends and family as Jordan) took the most efficient route from the entrance from the foundation of the house, towards the light source next to the window. Along this route, Casey patiently waited.
Over the last three years, the level of constant tumult has shown that our tendency toward being complacent is dangerous. We must adapt to this new environment to not unnecessarily suffer. Terms such as the new normal and notions such as thinking that history had stopped could be seen and heard as the pandemic altered the course of everyone’s lives. The reality is that this new normal was just a return of the conventional and that we had experienced a couple of decades of relative quiet and comfort in the West. We did what every organism does when they become comfortable; we became complacent.
Complacency, like organisms, evolves with the times and can seep into existence in unexpected ways. On the industrial level, cost-cutting and efficiency-driven mandates have led to outsourcing work and manufacturing elsewhere. This led to an inability to defend and protect ourselves against the rancors of the pandemic as we are marching towards a recession. Whether it was shortages in consumer-grade toilet paper (for remember that industrial and business-grade toilet papers were too rough for our refined rears), PPE, now chips, or the ability to produce vaccines, many countries were left crippled. This also goes without saying when one takes into account the cuts in spending in healthcare sectors and how it left out tens of millions of our vulnerable to dying alone in pain, fear, and blinding despair.
While it is easy to point at significant issues and sit back and complain, I would like to offer some solutions on a personal level and not the industrial grade. Changes on an industrial scale to iron out the complacencies that leave each country and region ill-prepared for when the poop hits the fan require much more effort and research than this paper can cover. As we are quickly being reintegrated into a state of flux, here are some things to consider moving forward.
The first is the apparent and not-so-obvious effects of climate change and how you should better protect yourself from potential harm in the future. Earlier this year, the city I reside in experienced another storm that was out of the ordinary. This time, it involved high winds; naturally, we were ill-equipped. Due to our aging infrastructure, many regions were without power for up to a week. Policies allowing our infrastructure to become heavily dated may have made sense at the moment, but they led to complacency, which left us vulnerable. So how can we better ensure that we are better prepared from this day forwards? Especially considering that the climate will get more severe with every passing season. Here are some examples to get you started:
Inspect the shingles on your roof more often. Maybe upgrade to metal shingles. Do the same for your parents. Proactively trim vegetation and trees on your property to avoid acts of god, where your house or a neighbour’s may be damaged. Look into getting a backup generator for your home for extended blackouts. Install a gas fireplace for cold winter days that you may be without power.
The second factor that may not be apparent about climate change and what to be concerned about is other humans. The incident rate for violence amongst humans skyrockets in two circumstances. The first is when temperatures rise. The second is during times of economic hardship. During the pandemic, violent crime in the United States and Canada rose. Here in Toronto, violent robberies and carjackings skyrocketed as the weather started to warm in the spring. Racially charged hate crimes also noticeably rose across the globe. The weather alone is not to blame for this rise in violent crime. Global stocks fell 8.8% in June 2022, the second-biggest drop in over a decade and bonds are on track for their worst performance in over one hundred and fifty years. Furthermore, we are headed toward an era of quantitive tightening (versus easing), resulting in an environment that discourages spending and growth. At the start of the pandemic, people wished for a return to the roaring twenties of the previous century, and their wishes were hilarious in hindsight. While in lockdown, we fantasized about gaining back our agency and exercising it carelessly. We hoped for not only a return to normal, but in private, we promised ourselves to do so with gusto. We could not foresee that global challenges would continue to mount on top of each other and that the pandemic would continue to evolve as, you guessed it, the virus was allowed to develop and grow due to our complacency. Now the global economy has to contend with a useless war waged on the people (think families, children, seniors, ordinary people, not the state itself) of Ukraine by Russia. Thus, energy costs reached record highs which impacts the prices of everything. Regions are left starving as the agricultural powerhouse Ukraine can not ship out its grains from Odesa to Africa.
What can you do to better protect yourself from the depressing paragraph you just read? The obvious is to be more frugal but also to be more observant and wary of your surroundings. If going out to dinner, leave that expensive watch in its safe and do not make yourself a tempting target. Park your vehicle in well-lit areas. Do not fill up gas at an empty gas station. Do not go to drive-throughs where criminals can wait for you to drive your car to a designated spot where you sit and wait for your order. Do not spend time scrolling aimlessly on your phone when out in public, especially while in your vehicle waiting. Doing so leaves you vulnerable to a quick hit-and-run robbery where you are left on the ground with a head injury and no idea what just transpired. If you are a visible minority, be extra mindful of your surroundings and decide whether it is worth heading out into the 4th of July celebrations if you are the only visible minority within 50 square miles – of note, I chose to stay in my hotel room in this instance last week.
Humans naturally have a frail grasp over the unfamiliar, for we do not devote our resources to protect ourselves from the usual or unheard of. We are now finally re-entering an era where uncertainty is the norm. It is well worth your time to better safeguard yourself against other events that were once thought of as unimaginable. In this article’s opening, I briefly mentioned the practice of yin-yoga. One of the main principles of yin is to find your first “edge” of discomfort while in a pose, be still, and constantly scan and analyze your body and mind, whether it be stray thoughts entering your mind or intense emotions that flare up while in discomfort. Being still in one’s discomfort allows the person practicing yin to learn about and eventually exceed their current limits. This allows for greater strength, flexibility, resilience, injury prevention capabilities, and cardiovascular performance. Yin teaches us not to become complacent. It teaches a discipline in which the mind is in an active state in the background while constantly analyzing one’s body and environment. By employing this discipline as we enter an era where the relative comfort of the recent past can no longer be attained, we can better equip ourselves for the next series of misfortunes which descend on us personally and as a species by simply being aware and ready to act.