Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Earth Day is Each Now, Stuff to Consider Doing

Every day we eat food created on and in the soil of this magnificent planet is a day to be grateful for the Earth. Every breath we take in brings in oxygen to our lungs, oxygen created by the forests of the world, by our local oak trees, by your backyard roses, even by the lowly weeds, many of which --- mallow, dock, purslane, chickweed, pigweed – are far more nutritious than “normal” fare.

So every day we eat is Earth Day, and every moment we breathe is Earth Moment. To live a life disconnected from this awareness is, in my opinion, to live less than a full life. Here are a few suggestions for our Earth Life:

• Get around on foot or bike. Savor the chance to slow down, see other people, enjoy the sky, feel your body moving and smell the literal as well as proverbial roses.

• Give yourself one Amish Day a week. Take one day a week and on that day be car free, television free, computer free and free of refined and processed food.

• Hang your clothes to dry on a clothes line. It’s easy, fun, and pleasant for you, for your clothes and for the Earth.

• As much as possible buy and eat only organic food. Why pay a farmer to poison the soil, air and the farm workers by buying conventional food?

• Grow your own food, organically, building up your soil with compost, with mulch, with rock dust, with crushed oyster shell, with love and mindful attention. One reason for obesity in this country, is that the food grown on poor soil is so lacking in nutrition that bodies eating it are essentially starving, and so they attempt to eat vast quantities even to get a smidgeon of real nutritional value.

• If you don’t have a backyard to grow your food, consider sharing a plot at a friend’s, or rent a plot at the Garden Park. ( Call Mollyanne at 695-2164). (Now, in 2007, call Tiona at: 996-1267) Ride a bike to the Garden Park, so you don’t have fossil fuel involved in putting food into your mouth.

• Know that if your meat or dairy is not organic, the animal was probably fed genetically engineered corn and soy.

• One woman cured herself of cancer by switching to eating only food that did not come in a package, can or jar. Eliminate most or all packaged food from your household. And throw out the microwave.

• Buy what you don’t grow yourself from the Farmer’s Market, in bags that you recycle again and again and again.

• If you live in town, walk to work ( see earlier smell the roses comments, plus, this may well save you from a heart attack down the line) and ride a bike to market. Do chores mindfully on a bike rather than mindlessly in a car.

• Next time you walk out your door and head automatically to your car, think: am I being a robot now? Then put the keys in back in your pocket and leave behind that explosion-based box for a pleasant stroll under a ceiling five miles high.

• Notice your breathing as you walk, and remember where the oxygen for your lungs came from.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Autos and awakening, an Earth Day tidbit

The next time you find yourself in your car, about to turn the keys of your ignition, stop a moment, take a breath, and ask: is this a conscious act? Was I aware of walking to the car? Did I notice the weight of the door when I opened it? Do I notice how my bottom and back press into the seat? Am I aware of the nearness of the roof to my head and how far my feet are above the ground?

Or, is the car something of a sleeping act, where we get in, put a picture in our mind of where we want to end up, and go, more or less, on automatic until we get there? Are we in something like a trance as we use this explosion-based box that uses 95% of its energy pulling the box and only 5% moving us?

And what about all that we are missing in this explosion-based box? The trees and the flowers, the green leaf and lawn and blue sky, the ceiling that is five miles above us, not several inches. And the people who we are too isolated from the properly say hello, to smile and receive a smile in return. All this rush, and so much lost in the hurry.

Missing all that pleasure of a ten or fifteen minute walk or bike ride, the simple joy of moving, of freedom from the box, of breathing fresh air and seeing the world in all its immediate glory.

And have we examined this story of “running late,” “too much to do,” and so on, that puts the six minutes saved by driving across town ahead of a life that is lived in the present and in the beauty of nature? Is going slower a “waste of time” or is it reclaiming our lives? Is "time" more important than breath? And what of the health benefits, the heart attacks we can save by getting out of the explosion-based boxes and letting the miraculous body do what it loves to do: move on its own steam, breathing in that good oxygen that the plants and trees are making every day. These explosion-based boxes eat the oxygen, too, it is said at the rate of one gallon of gas eating up the oxygen a baby breathes in its first year of life. Sometimes they are necessary, these car things. Sometimes they are not. Are we awake to the difference?

Chris Elms