Our orientation to the future inevitably remains, but for us it is directed
toward what is no longer entirely there. We are caught between two
imperatives: we must lead our lives, but we must also recognize that our
life narratives are no longer credible. Neither renunciation nor stubborn-
ness, neither reckless grief nor furious assertion, can finally erase the
eerie quality of persisting within a narrative whose conclusion is slowly
being erased. No plausible course of action is open to us. The ruined
future forces us to endure in a broken present.
Is it even possible to live in full awareness of this contradiction? Can
we at once perform our ordinary activities and be conscious that the nar-
rative they imply may be in ruins? Our first option is to do everything
we can to prevent entering this contradiction at all: the prospect of life
in these terms should be enough to motivate our unreserved participa-
tion in a movement to change our societies and to change them now .
But as I have been suggesting, the time available for action is so short it
has virtually disappeared. We may have litle choice, then, but to live in
a mode that might seem impossible for us, to endure a life that will go
on, even though it has been damaged fundamentally. We who are alive at
this strange moment may end up having to reckon with its strangeness by
enduring in this impossibility. If the Earth passes the turning point and
we still endure, we will discover that the ruins of the future have thrown
us of the track of our personal narratives and disjoined us from who we
think we are. In that moment, if we are sane and aware, we will be off-
kilter, out of balance.
The ruins of the future inevitably undo any coherent way to live. If
events force us to construct new strategies for surviving in an altered
world, we will also have to face this more intimate challenge: how
to endure this incoherence, how to live on in the ruins of the lives we
thought we would lead, in the ruins of who we thought we might be. All
our basic emotions will be up for grabs, for none will remain unchanged:
desire and grief, joy and sorrow, hope and despair. Living in the physical
ruins of the Earth will be tough. But doing so will also symbolize living in
the ruins of another sort, the broken language of the heart.