Climate is a word we hear often in connection to our changing environment. If we consider the lifeworld-led meaning of spatiality we find connections between climate and mood, climate and spirit, climate and atmosphere, climate and possibilities. Our personal environment and our experiences living in that environment create the climate we live in. Our climate offers an understanding of the quality of our environment and its impact on our life. At home, in the community and at large we become affected by the prevailing attitudes, standards and conditions of our environment.
When we live within a climate of acceptance, accessibility and encouragement, our environments become places of opportunities. When we live within a climate of avoidance, rejection and pity, our environments become places with barriers. Just as climate change is an indicator of negative consequences from societal action and inaction in regards to our planet’s health, climate change is too an indicator of negative consequences from societal action and inaction in regards to our community’s health.
Our personal climate is not always out of our control. Creativity is a strong tool to enact the change in climate needed to feel as though life is full of possibilities. A wonderful woman taught me this. In a time struck by the climate of war, hunger and chaos, she continued to embrace her creativity. This provided the change needed in her environment to feel as though the world was not coming to an immediate end, instead it had movement in possibilities. With a desire to learn how to sew in the midst of a material shortage, this woman thought out of the box. At that time men in the army would practice jumping out of planes and their silken parachutes floating them down were only for single use. She used the material from parachutes to teach herself how to sew, a chance to continue to learn and grow in the midst of war. She undoubtedly altered her climate in life to become a world of possibilities not limitations and her life’s story has reflected the inner strength of influencing one’s personal climate.
Although I am forever grateful for that moment in her life, as without it I would have missed the chance to learn to sew myself, today I feel angry. As we experience difficult and complex challenges we can often find ourselves relying on the goodness of others, whether that is in our personal nature or not. The mood, the spirit, the atmosphere of our surroundings can be taken out of our control and we can find ourselves in a climate of frustration, limitation and indignity. When we find ourselves in moments of vulnerability our climates can find themselves just out of our reach and into the hands of others. What angers me is that the influence we have on another’s environmental quality and its impact on how they will experience life is taken for granted.
In which climate do you find yourself in? Is it one of possibilities or one of barriers? Do you have control over your personal environment? Can you make the choice to alter your climate? At 90 years old will you still prefer to be in control of the surrounding mood, spirit and atmosphere you find yourself in? Of course you will, but take a second look at the actions and in-actions on every level influencing the experiences of Canadian elders. Will you accept a negative influence on how you experience your life? Will you have that choice? Who or what will make that choice for you?