The Beginnend of Everything

It’s morbidly easy to imagine the end of the world. However, we can’t blame ourselves too harshly. We’ve been exploring depictions of our own demise forever. From sci-fi films to dystopian novels to post-apocalyptic video games, that tank of ideas is full of fuel. What’s more difficult to envision is the beginning that comes after the end. Nothing is exempt from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. In the book Learning to Die: Wisdom in the Age of the Climate Crisis, Robert Bringhurst reminds readers that the death of the earth means the death of humans, but that unlike humans the earth is likely to recover. We’re just a blip on the timeline and that makes us deeply uncomfortable.

Rather than doom-scrolling ourselves into numbness to avoid confronting the reality of our inevitable end, we can face it head on and ask ourselves this question: What comes after the end? That’s what we set out to explore through six weeks of Dreaming Climate Consciousness workshops as we collaborated on building a new world in response to the current climate emergency. One of the things that came after the end was a reality check. Our cohort quickly decided our world was not one that had innovated its way out of climate collapse. Nature had recovered in spite of us, not because of us. Instead of trying to hold the environment at bay, we let it take over: trees and wildflowers reclaimed lawns and sidewalks, dams broke, animals re-inhabited the spaces that were once theirs.

Another thing that came after the end was de-growth. Communities in our world were smaller, more interdependent, more self-sustaining. Things we could be now, yet it took a climate disaster to push us towards this new way of living. We re-discovered different types of reverence for the natural cycles of the earth. I lean witchy so I became a strong advocate for a pagan relationship with the natural world, while one of my co-creators explored a fundamentalist climate martyrdom. The opposition of these two views created a dynamic of curiosity rather than one of antagonism. What came after the end was a world of “yes/and” rather than one of “either/or”.

I am fascinated by the cyclical nature of the world, and without intending it, the character I created to inhabit our new climate reality reflected this fascination. She was a doula specializing in both birth and death. She guided people into the world and she guided them out of it. She helped plenty of people give birth yet she herself was childless and awkward around young people. She was a fierce advocate for bodily autonomy, even when it involved assisted death. Oh, and her name was Daisy because I thought it would be fun to give someone who does such rough and earthy work a cutesy name. Joke’s on me: I later learned a bit of lore about how daisies, unlike other flowers, are able to thrive in dark places. What came after the end was a reminder that growth can still happen despite seemingly impossible circumstances.

What comes after the end is a new way forward; one informed by experience, by memory, by fear, and more importantly by desire. All these serve to clarify our values and help us make decisions about what we are willing to give up and what we want to hold on to. See? There’s that life-death-rebirth cycle again. What beliefs or habits am I willing to lay to rest so that new ways of being in the world can emerge? What am I willing to do now so that in the future my descendants can know the sound of magpies, the cool spark of snow landing on their face, the distinctive change of the seasons, and the joy of identifying mugwort or yarrow on a forest walk?

The potency of Dreaming Climate Consciousness is in the way it asks us to look toward the future, bravely and endlessly. It reminds us that not only is the creation of a liveable future possible, the process of creating that future is a shared effort held in the hands of each individual. If that seems like a lot of responsibility, remember that you’re one of 8 billion people on the planet. To quote tennis champ Arthur Ashe, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” You are never doing this alone, and you can always begin again.


Bevin Dooley is a writer, dramaturg, and filmmaker who calls Tiohtià:ke/Montréal home. She was part of the Fall 2023 Dreaming Climate Consciousness cohort. Learn more about them and their work at