My worries are heavy tonight. I’m feeling hopeless and small, without direction or guidance. These days come more than I’d like. I try not to carry my grief around with me, but it’s persistent. So much of the story of climate collapse is about the problems we face. And we, as humans, don’t know how to resolve them. Although people keep saying that there’s hope, I don’t see enough change in prevalent popular culture to modify our current trajectory.

On these days, it’s hard to find happiness. But I know it’s there and I reach hard for it. It’s in rewilding, in solarpunk, in permaculture. (Is it a coincidence that all those terms were flagged by my spellcheck?). When the “happiness” we are fed through consumption fuels oppression and climate disaster, we need to find real happiness in connection to the world around us. I am happiest and most at peace when outdoors, away from the city. I am most stressed in grocery stores, on highways. So much of my energy has been spent detaching from searching for happiness in materialism and learning how to find joy in the natural world without domination, oppression, or consumption.

But how do I share this with my children, who love video games, toys, and lollipops? How do I tell them that they need to learn to connect with the Earth because they’ll need to love her to save her? How do I help them unplug and join me in my rewilding joy? I mean, I know the answer to this from an unschooling perspective: I find the things in the natural world that they do love and build on that. Beach days, campfires, dancing in the rain. But sometimes I feel like it’s not enough. Like I need to do more. But I don’t want to scare them, right? Forcing them to learn to grow food because someday they might not be able to afford fresh food? That’s not happiness. That’s not joyful. And sometimes I see consumptive habits forming in them and half of me wants to stamp it out and the other half want to help nurture and explore their interests no matter what. I feel like there is a tender balance here where I waver back and forth when the worries are heavy like they are today.

I don’t know the answer to these problems. But I find solace in knowing that their unbridled joy is rebellious and that they will grow up knowing that their value isn’t tied to their use in a capitalist system. And that does bring me joy.