A Place to Land

I come home from meditation retreats with a lot of little notes on scraps of paper.  Reminders like: “self-identification > self-consciousness > need for self-acceptance.” Or “When available, be open and spacious.”

For weeks after sitting two retreats this Summer a little pile of these notes drifted from one space to another in my home office like a restless flock of birds.  At some point I realized this displaced group of papers was kind of stressing me out. They needed a home. The ease I felt after typing them into my journal and tossing the paper into the recycling bin was noticeable.

In a similar way I sometimes notice a feeling of irritation resulting from my scattered approach to climate engagement. There isn’t just one group, or one project or even one goal. It feels sometimes like I’m throwing dull-tipped darts at an invisible dartboard, with no idea which efforts will have an impact or even if the dartboard is in the room.

A few years ago when I asked 50 people in a casual email survey, “What could help you [politically/socially] engage?” about half agreed with the statement “faith that my actions would bear fruit.”

Imagine if we knew:  [meetings]+[emails]+[rallies]+[events]+[offering workshops]+[attending workshops]+[reading articles]+[lowering footprint at home]+[lowering footprint at work]+[thinking positive thoughts about the earth]+[compassion for self and for world] = AN END TO CRAZY POLICIES AND THE SPOILING OF THE EARTH. 

But that’s not how it works. Our well-intentioned and even highly focused actions are like snowflakes. They land for a moment and then disappear only to be replaced a little later by another action: email, rally, footprint. Now and then a whole bunch of snowflakes collect and solidify and we feel the impact of our time and efforts. But over time even those imprints are lost.

One practice from my One Small Planet workshop is to have people notice the times they are taking action on climate. It could be as subtle as noticing you are purposely driving at 55 mph, or that you are forwarding an email about an event, or that you are reading an article….For me this practice is a reminder: I am doing something. I can’t know the impact but I can recognize I’m trying and remember that I really care about this planet and all the people, plants and animals and other life-forms that live here. It is important that we remember that we care.

Give it a try for a week. Notice every time you take some action with an intention related to caring for the planet. Know that it matters that you’re trying.  See how you feel when you notice this. Appreciate your caring, your good intentions and your efforts.