When I think of the tar sands operations turning entire forests into toxic sludge and taking away the indigenous peoples’ way of life, the great apes clinging to the last trees standing in the rainforests, infant dolphins dead on the Gulf shores, fracking causing people to develop cancer, the rampant destruction caused by major corporations who basically run our government, it has made me want to quit at times, asking myself the question, “Will it ever end?” The list of worries could go on forever and they are so heavy and sad.
One day, I was wandering the shops in Savannah, Georgia when a painting in the student art store caught my eye. The sky was gray and stormy, the clouds billowing wildly. The waves were crashing into the rocky shore, sending spray into the salty air. A group of people wearing flowing white garments were standing on the beach, looking out to sea. Others were standing in the sea, hands raised to the sky. The painting was titled “Exodus.” I imagined a departure of humans from the Earth. As the seas rise, we can ultimately choose to accept that the time may come for humans to leave. It could be a peaceful departure, a calm acceptance of our fate, letting the Earth swallow us back into her waves, so that life can continue as it did before us. This doesn’t mean we don’t work our hardest to slow sea level rise and climate change, to do everything we can to take care of this planet and our fellow creatures. It just means we can work without fear, and in turn, do so much more.
With a calm heart, I can carry these images and have the energy to work my absolute hardest in this lifetime to protect this planet and all the amazing life forms on it. With a lighter heart, I can experience more joy in this work, more joy in the knowledge that incredible people are being brought together from all walks of life to join in a movement that is waking people up. On many levels, playing an active role in this movement makes me feel more alive.
I was advised by a good friend recently to make sure I have a hobby to be able to keep myself healthy and able to contribute to this movement. I couldn’t agree more. We all need a break from the heaviness of what’s going on in our world, a way to release, laugh, clear our minds, enjoy our lives. I have experienced “burnout” a few times, and it’s a terrible place to be. To stay balanced, I make sure I practice yoga or do something active outside multiple times a week. I visit undeveloped, natural areas, if I can, to appreciate untouched land. I’m honest with my friends when I don’t want to discuss the world’s problems. I focus on eating healthily, paying attention to what my body needs, especially my heart. I am frequently asking myself the question, “Am I taking active steps in my life to help me feel free and am I doing things in my daily life that are fulfilling (outside of environmental work)?” Focusing on learning how to be the best human I can be and working to create rich relationships with those I love in my life allows me to share my absolute best self with the movement and contribute as much as I can.