6. 30. 2021

Letter from a future where parks are lined with fruit trees

A Roach

We don’t call COVID “the pandemic” anymore. There’ve been more. We call them by their names now. Summers get hotter and hotter for a while still. Concrete cities like Toronto and New York continue to be capitals for heat death. Coastal cities slip into the sea. It gets a lot harder before it gets any easier.

Especially while it gets harder, it’s easy to form an identity of contrariness, to shape ourselves in opposition to the things we want to see die, things like ecocide, femicide, and genocide. Fight them but be wary of letting the fight swallow you whole. Contrariness does not build life. If you are shaped only by the things you oppose, you will be formless when they fall.

The earth was always going to survive, with or without us. She does not need guardians and will remind us of that at every turn. It’s up to us, both alone and together, to choose to survive with her. Those who live are those who see themselves not just as destroyers of the current world but also as builders of the next.

Keep your people close and learn how to grieve with them. You will have many opportunities to do this, so be gentle with yourself, but do not avoid it. 

Your greatest gift is the transmutation of energy. Emotions are energy. Fear is energy; joy is energy; grief and love, calm and anxiety are energies. Storytelling is one of the Great Transmuters – your power as a gatherer and sharer of stories is to give voice to the togetherness that will lead us through paralysis. You are a messenger, a healer, and a truth-teller all at once.

Things are different now, different in big ways, different in small ways. It’s harder to travel now. It’s more expensive, and it takes a lot longer. There are some relatives we haven’t seen in years, and others we never said goodbye to. We built homes we never returned to. We’re lucky we learned so young to keep others close even when they’re far. 

On the flipside, most of us make some of our own things. Some of us grow our own foods, others build their own furniture, others make their own clothes. There are fewer dollar stores and more neighbourhood tool sheds. We’ve remembered what it feels like to be connected to each other, to ourselves, and to the living things surrounding us. We’ve remembered to walk towards life. You’re a really good knitter in 2080.

As much as we can, we find creative ways to repurpose the waste we’ve accumulated over the past two hundred years. There are whole genres of art based on stuff we found in the ocean. We took money we used to put towards guns and we put it towards recycling the things we’ve thrown away. We took money we used to put towards cages and we used it to build homes.

Keep your people close, learn how to grieve with them, and remember what you have to build together. That is the only way I’ve found to stare grief in the face and keep walking.

There’s a lot you can start building now. There are plants for you to befriend, tend to, and learn to use. They will tell you stories and keep you company when people can’t. They are your teachers, but if you want to hear them speak when you need them, you need to learn to listen now. Pay special attention to weeds and all the ways life shows up where you don’t expect it; you need to learn that.

In the Zoom Year, you went to an online ritual hosted by your artist friends in honour of the Worm Moon. They made compost for worms, bringing up all of the rotten and stinking things from the winter and turning them into something healthful. Your friend leading the event preached a worm sermon, and they said: This summer will be hot. We will be fighting for our lives a lot in the next few months. In the next few years.

They were right. I know that feeling is scary to you, and I’m here to tell you that’s okay. The fear is your friend; it’s self-preservation, it’s there to protect you. Your job is to learn to work with it, to tell instinct from panic. Know when to rest, when to dance, when to cry, when to run, and when to roll up your sleeves. 

I know you’re doing all of that, as best you can. You would even if I didn’t tell you to. It gets a lot harder before it gets any easier, but it does get easier. Our parks in the future are lined with fruit trees. There’s almost always a sweet snack on hand. I think that’s worth fighting for.

Rest well. Take care of yourself. Keep your people close. We’ll share a drink in my rose garden when you get here.

Love always,

A Roach from 2080

A Roach is an investigative journalist who covers social movements and environmental justice from Toronto, Yerevan, and New York City. They hold a degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelors in conflict studies from the University of Toronto. Today, they serve on the board of directors at The Hoser.