Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thursday, July 20: Helping the Earth

What can we do? Lots it turns out. To some it might seem “hard,” and to others a great liberation, and to all, eventually, these changes will be a great blessing, since they all involve living at a rate that is conducive to presence and happiness.

This is what our life is, living moment by moment. When we rush through our days, always thinking of the “next thing” we need to get done, we end up exhausted, and having racked up a lot of carbon producing miles on our cars. The suburban myth is that if you drive around enough, shop enough, take your kids to enough “activities,” then you’ll be happy. But is it true?

Think back on what made you the happiest in the last year. Was it rushed moments? Was it peaceful times in nature? Was it pleasant times with friends? Was it a quiet moment when you actually watched the joy with which a child was playing some spontaneous game? Or even a moment when you opened up to some spontaneous game.

This is what can heal the Earth, if humanity can turn its back on quantity and return to the quality of our lives, in the moment.

Which means: driving less. Feet are meant for walking. Bodies are meant to move. Eyes are meant to scan the horizon as we walk outside in the real world. Give yourself this treat. Skip the weird idea of driving to somewhere else to take a walk, or somewhere else to exercise, especially in so small a town as Sonoma. Walk to the bike path. Or walk near where you live. Walk or ride a bike to the gym. Walk to the Overlook Trail, or ride a bike. Walk to work, or take a bike. How many days can you go without being in a car?

It will take a little longer. It will give you a chance to breathe real air, to move your body in a leisurely and human way. It will give you a chance to think, especially if you are kind enough to yourself to leave off the cell phone, or don’t even take it while you walk. What’s the sense of chattering away while you could be looking at sky and leaves and grass and other people? You don’t need to know where everyone else is and everyone else doesn’t need to know where you are.

Learn to be happy. Or more happy.

This is the most subversive activity we can undertake. The major destroyers of the Earth: wars, and too much stuff, and driving too much all come out of people acting out ways to avoid their unhappiness. Being happy, we can sit home and read a book, or talk to a neighbor over the fence as we tend to our own garden.

Ah, that reminds me. Fire the mow and blow guys. They are good people and all that, but basically they are yard janitors, and they are robbing your yard of all the leaves and grass that should be building up your own soil. And robbing you of exercise. Get rid of your gas mower, get a push mower, and get strong and help the earth by mowing your own lawn. If it’s too big to hand mow, make it smaller. Put down newspaper and then cover the paper with woodchips or compost. Plant trees. We need the oxygen, you and your friends can use the fruit, animals can use the habitat.

Have fun.

Take up or return to low impact activities, reading, playing musical instruments, conversation. Find people to talk to that you can walk to. Be happy. Drive less. Shop less. Breathe more. Walk more. Come to the present more.

That’s a fine present for yourself, and the people you are around, and the Earth. Win, win, win.


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