A perk of my job as Environmental Sustainability Coordinator is that I get to get my hands dirty in things that I really love— things like ecopsychology and animae mundi and our wonderful earth. It reminds me of that article “10 reasons why 2013 will be the year you quit your job” that is going viral right now on Facebook. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out here. These words rang with particular poignancy to doing what you really love:
“Your hands are not made to type out memos. Or put paper through fax machines. Or hold a phone up while you talk to people you dislike. A hundred years from now your hands will rot like dust in your grave. You have to make wonderful use of those hands now. Kiss your hands so they can make magic.”
Tonight I had the honor of attending a lecture at my work by photographer and environmental activist, Chris Jordan. He is currently making a documentary called Midway about the effects of over-consumption on the albatross, a beautiful, curious bird on this remote island in the North Pacific Ocean. I’ve written about over-consumption before and it’s really hard to even grasp this concept and the devastation caused by it when our culture is so deeply entrenched in it; everything, and I mean everything, is so readily at our finger tips, so disposable and so available, and the effects are intangible, somewhere “out there”. There’s an enormous disconnect between the statistics and our feelings. One can hear over and over again the thousands, or millions, or perhaps even trillions, immeasurable measurements of pollution and still feel distant from the problem, still feel that it is somehow “out there” and not “in here”.
Whenever I return home from being out of the country, even entering the grocery store, like Albertsons or Vons, is overwhelming; shelves full of food, hundreds of the same thing, stacked neatly in nice rows. Or Costco with its multipacks, where you cannot simply buy 1 toothbrush, you must buy 20, where the packaging for a simple flashdrive the size of your thumb comes in a plastic package bigger than an encyclopedia. It’s part of our culture to drive around in huge SUV’s, stock the car full of stuff, come home, turn on the TV and zone out; zone out from our innate connection with this beautiful and magical earth, from the feeling that we are part of this beauty and magic, from realizing that we already have all that we truly need to be happy.
It’s difficult to even begin to comprehend the enormity of pain and destruction we are causing our earth and other sentient beings, including plants and animals, and perhaps even stones and waterways and mountains. It’s easy to point fingers at you, at me, at big corporations, at deregulation, but it’s more difficult to allow for feeling, for grieving, for connection. To realize that no one is right or wrong here, but that our collective relationship to our earth is wounded and that our individual relationships with this earth make up the collective. So, let’s start feeling and connecting and see where that might bring us. Let’s stop zoning out and let’s tune in, to ourselves, to each other, and to our earth.
Chris Jordan describes Midway as a love story, about connecting to the beauty of our earth and to other sentient beings, such as the albatross. He describes an astonishing amount of grief that comes from this kind of work, from witnessing the unimaginable, the destruction of something so powerful and beautiful, so curious and gracious.
But, he distinguishes grief from sadness, saying that “grief is not sadness, it is a felt experience of love.” It can open new channels and portals; it can throw just anyone into an infinite ocean of love; it can show us the power of beauty.
Let’s shift from a mindset of hope which implies that something “out there” will save us, that some miraculous event will occur, to a mindset of loving action. The opposite of hope is not hopelessness; in fact these two are on the same scale. The opposite of hope is action.
Today, find a simple way to connect with the beauty and magic of this earth and let what you find vibrate within and fill you with overflowing love.