Tuesday, August 24, 2021


  by Gary Stamper, CPC, MSIP, DSPS

For Me, Living Only With What I Truly Cherish
Encourages the Vibrant Essence of Life

In part one of this blog, I addressed some of the ways climate change impacts have obviously come to the forefront of our lives, playing out in multiple ways in the present as opposed to "theoretical" warnings of things to come.

These impacts include life-threatening heatwaves, drought, uncontrollable historic fires, flooding, increasing freshwater scarcity, famines, population migration, and more, and this is just the beginning of what is going to get much worse as a result of self-reinforcing tipping points.

I also discussed the fact that we - as a species - are not only not doing anything to mitigate the coming consequences we have been warned about in no uncertain terms, we don't even seem to be alarmed and are blindly allowing the causes to continue unabated.

Apparently, concern about global warming mostly only awakens when it gets personal.

In this second part, I'm going to address my own journey around "avoiding the rush" (if you hurry, you might get in on that), and we're going to take a look at why we're so complacent about our potential self-imposed demise (it's largely because of cognitive dissonance) and how we, as individuals and communities, can approach our impending demise in the most conscious way possible.

The title of this two-part series, Collapsing Consciously in Panama, is taken from my own personal experience of downsizing and moving from the U.S. to a small Panamanian island in the Caribbean, and before that, the massive and comprehensive website  - Collapsing Into Consciousness - I created a few years ago that I eventually shut down due to a lack of interest.

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

My tagline for that website was "Collapse Now - Avoid the Rush," meaning there was much we could do to avoid the pain that's coming to us now by getting smaller, reducing our individual and global footprints so that we wouldn't have that far to fall when "the rush" started as it is now beginning to happen. 

After a year of investigation, I chose Panama's Bocas Del Toro as my "collapse" destination, keeping in mind my strengths and limitations and how I would fit them to that final destination. Bocas Del Toro is small and has a much lower cost of living than the U.S. I am easily able to be without a car (and insurance, gas, and repairs) for the first time in my adult life. A bike and walking are healthier. Rent's cheaper here than anywhere in the U.S. Health care is phenomenally less expensive: so much that I am easily able to pay for my own health costs and just carry catastrophic health insurance for under $100/month. A recent visit to the doctor was $1. There are some inconveniences here, but nothing I can't manage... and, there are cheaper places to live, but, OMG! the beaches!

And my ecological footprint has been greatly reduced.

Down Sizing

Over the past three and one-half years, I've moved from the 2300+ sq ft house I built on a ridge in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, to a rented 1300 sq ft house in Asheville, to an older 750 sq ft Mobile home I lovingly remodeled (and loved!) in an over-55 mobile home park, to my sister's spare bedroom in Napa, CA, to Houston and a too-small second bedroom in my daughter's RV for three months, and finally to Bocas Del Toro into a 400 sq ft one-bedroom apartment a block from the beach. This is small enough, thank you!

Aside from the fact that I loved being able to spend time at my sister's and my daughter's places before I came here, I am perfectly content in my BDT apartment. I shipped some things from the U.S. to Bocas that I truly cherish - about 20 pieces of my art, some sentimental "knick-knacks," books I wanted to keep, some kitchen items and appliances (who knew you could cook pretty much anything in an air fryer!), my high-end desktop and dual screens, and some shoes and clothing. There is freedom in no longer having what George Carlin called "stuff."

I am content, even in knowing Bocas Del Toro will not be spared from the consequences of global warming in the long run, but hopefully, there won't be as far to fall.

What can you do?

As we saw in part one, we can clearly see that the powers-that-be are not going to change in time to make a difference. Nor do we have sufficient numbers or even the political will to make them change. We're too complacent or in denial (the first of the Five Stages of Grief - See more on that later) and it's just not going to happen in time.

These are tough facts to face and it's going to get bad. Real bad. Will the human race survive? Maybe. It depends. This is clearly uncharted territory.

It is also an opportunity for growth. If you're someone who has been "doing your work", then you know what that means. When I teach the Spiral Dynamics values developmental model in my men's workshops, I emphasize how and why people change and it's not because they're happy. Happy people don't change. Why would they? People change because they have come up against a Cognitive Dissonance problem that their current level of development can't solve or answer for them. In short, cognitive dissonance can make people feel uneasy and uncomfortable, particularly if the disparity between their values, beliefs, and behaviors involves something that is central to their sense of self. read more here

The growth happens when we work through the cognitive dissonance - the pain - to reach a new and more complex level of understanding about the problem: A new awareness of the problem and a new way - and increased ability - of responding to it. In this case, the potential demise of the human race - the 6th Great Extinction - or a best-case scenario of billions of lives lost with pockets of humanity hopefully surviving. 

How does one find meaning in either of these potential scenarios that make what's happening a little more bearable?

I believe the answer lies in being in service to others. This is not a time to retreat or be alone on a mountain top like a monk. This is the time for spiritual warriors to ask, "How can I serve"?

One way I serve is to get my COVID vaccination. In this time and place, if I can play even a small role in alleviating someone else's suffering, even for a short time, I'm down.

I'm not concerned about being in Bocas Del Toro on the second floor of a 4-story apartment on land that is about 5 feet above sea level. There are no places to hide  - as we're seeing - as we pass the many tipping points that bring even more devastation and changes. There is only now or later. There is only mourning and grief, and eventually, acceptance.

It would be good if we are able to find our personal state of grace and acceptance, in order to help others. The 5th stage of the K├╝bler-Ross model of grieving is all about acceptance

Allow yourself to mourn and grieve this loss. Allow yourself to be angry. If you or someone you love are struggling as a result of the realization of this loss (and who isn't?), your emotions probably feel overwhelming and confusing.

Feeling this way is natural and even necessary. These emotions are forward steps in this momentous journey, even when it doesn’t feel like it at the moment, and if you’re having a particularly hard time with it, resources like counseling and support groups can help you cope. Better to do it now rather than later.

There is no right way to do this. We will never like this reality or make it okay, but eventually, we may accept it. Acceptance is more about how you acknowledge the losses you’re experiencing rather than "getting over it" - how you learn to live with those losses that just keep on coming, and how you readjust your life accordingly.

Last, if possible, savor any moments of joy. Allow yourself to laugh, to love, to cherish every good moment. Try to find meaning and purpose in your life and make it matter.

Because it does.



Recommended reading:

Friday, August 20, 2021


 by Gary Stamper, CPC, MSIP, DSPS

For Me, Living Only With What I Truly Cherish
Encourages the Vibrant Essence of Life

My friend Mike - a fabulously talented drummer that I had the honor of working with in the band S.O.U.P - lost his home to the monster Caldor fire east of Sacramento. He got a phone notice at 11pm on Monday the 16th to evacuate immediately and he escaped in his car with his two dogs and his laptop, and only the clothes he was wearing, leaving behind his drums, a recording studio, and everything else

I heard about it two days ago through the email band list that about 20 or so former band members stay in touch with each other after our 50-year reunion a couple of years ago. As I began writing this blog, I broke down with grief: Grief for my friend, grief for all I left behind coming to Panama, and grief for a world breaking down. 

Another member of the band has had to evacuate from his home in Pollock Pines, California,  which is also threatened by fire. He has no idea what he'll come home to.

A little over two years ago my sister, who lives in Napa at the north end of the SF Bay Area, spent almost two weeks with her car loaded with her most precious and important belongings, not knowing if the fires that threatened Napa at the time would turn and come over the hill toward her home. She was told to be prepared to move on a moment's notice.

Millions of climate refugees are already leaving, many being forced from their homes, seeking food and water, fleeing from war or devastating weather, flooding, drought, famine... and fires.

Just eleven days ago, the U.N. released its latest report on climate change, a "Code Red" warning stating that it's "too late to undo the damage we've done to our planet," a "blistering report that says some parts of climate change, such as warming oceans and rising sea levels, are "irreversible for centuries to millennia." It provides the strongest case yet for human-caused global warming, saying it's "unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land." Source

For the past 15 years I've been warning people to "Collapse Now, Avoid the Rush," and now it's too late. This is "the rush" and what we're seeing now are just the beginning of the consequences of our lack of action. Ultimately, the planet will be fine... We, on the other hand, are questionable.

Still doubt? Unfortunately, there's plenty of that going around, but it doesn't alter the fact that we're in deep shit, here.

At its core, the climate crisis is a product of bipartisan corruption and greed. Politicians bankrolled by oil and gas interests ignored scientists’ warnings and financed a fossil fuel economy knowing full well that it would destroy the ecosystem that supports all life on the planet.

Republicans were more explicit about their corruption, actively denying the scientific facts and resurrecting their own version of a Flat Earth Society that reassured voters that nothing has to change and everything will be fine. Democrats settled on a different, but similarly pernicious, form of climate denialism: They acknowledged the science and issued progressive sounding press releases about the environment, and they continue supporting fossil fuel development.

A day after the U.N. report was released, A new Morning Consult poll finds that the number of Americans who are "very concerned" about climate change has not increased significantly in recent months.

"The steps are clear: To reach net-zero emissions by 2050, fossil fuel use must be curtailed as promptly as possible, though removing carbon from the atmosphere will likely be necessary to mitigate the emissions that remain. A collective sense of urgency is key."

An 'unconcerned' public - you and me - is tantamount to giving the oligarchs permission to keep on doing what they've been doing and pretty much seals our fate, and we all get what we deserve.

One of the hardest facts to grasp about climate change is this: No matter what we do now, it's almost certain to get worse in the future.

• Why it matters: The time lag effect of climate change means that actions taken to reduce carbon emissions will only begin to noticeably bend the curve decades from now.

• That gives us the power to avert the worst-case scenario for warming, but we have to come to grips with a future that will feel as if it gets worse by the year.

The Ugly Truth

We're not going to do that, are we...?

The fires are going to get worse. The water is going to get deeper. The temperatures are going to get hotter. Oceans will shut down. Famines will increase along with biblical-style pestilence. Eco-systems will collapse. Greed and corruption will continue. Russia, China, and the U.S. aren't going to change. It's not just them... It's us.

And we're not going to do anything about it.

(Next: Now what?)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

Emotional Intelligence & Relationship

Before conscious, or integral, relationship can manifest in your life, there are certain conditions, or structure/stages, that have to be in place. Some of those personal structures are cognitive (empathy, and the ability to take multiple perspectives), spiritual (trans-personal, awareness that there's a bigger picture), moral (universal human ethics), compassion (transcended ego) , and emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence is a form of intelligence relating to the emotional side of life, such as the ability to recognize and manage one's own and others' emotions, to motivate oneself and restrain impulses, and to handle interpersonal relationships effectively.

I think there's good reason to think one's "EQ" is more important than "IQ." From Daniel Goleman:

"Emotionally intelligent have the ability to marshal their emotional impulses (or, at least, more so than those who are not emotionally intelligent); they have the self-awareness to know what they are feeling, and are able to think about and express those things; they have empathy for the feelings of others and insight into how others think; they can do things like delay gratification; they are optimistic and generally positive; they understand easily the dynamics of a given group, and, most important, where they fit inside that group."


Take an Emotional Intelligence test here.