A Letter to the Earth on it’s Day.

Dear Earth,

I apologize for being out of touch for so long. You know how it is, life takes over and you just don’t have time to communicate. But I haven’t meant to neglect you. I don’t think any of us have. You have been incredibly patient with all of us.

I hear you’ve been feeling under the weather lately. Bad fever, congested, too many toxins in your system. I know how much that can hurt, and I want you to know that I feel your pain. I’m doing everything I can to try and heal all those sicknesses. There are a lot of us here, working together to try and change the way we do things, so that you can get well again. Because when you’re sick, we’re sick.

You’ve been such an incredible friend, Earth. Anytime I’m feeling blue, you’ve been there to support me. You always have time to listen, and you always share your positive energy with those who need it most. Everything we need for a good life, you’ve been generous enough to provide – fresh food, water, air, love. Your oceans, your mountains and your forests are an endless sense of inspiration and hope. There are moments when I am so taken aback by your beauty, I cannot even find words.

At the end of the day, Earth, you give me and my family, my community, so much more than we could ever give you in return. I only hope that we can all learn to respect your generosity and treat you as real friends should.

Yours in gratitude,

Helen

Transformation

Energy flows freely within and between us – we need only stop for a moment and focus inwards to feel that life and it’s ability to transform

I attended a yoga workshop led by ‘environmentalist’ Julia Butterfly Hill and yoga teacher Ryan at Yoga for the People in Gastown – a beautiful space with classes accessible to anyone, donations preferred. I listened rapt to Julia, a woman who has experienced much and stands as a role model to anyone who works for positive change in themselves and in the world.   For 738 days, Julia lived in the canopy of a giant redwood tree, raising awareness about the damage we were causing to our ancient forest, and creating forward movement on numerous environmental and social justice issues.

Today, she sat among us, sharing her ideas on transformation and growth. One idea in particular stood out for me – that transformation is continual, we are never finished, and it is never easy. As she joked, “People tell me they are jealous of my life. I tell them no, they are jealous of the results.” Life is not just a summary of outcomes. It is the process in all it’s heart-wrenching glory.

Think about a butterfly. To transform, a caterpillar must create it’s own cocoon, woven from within, and then liquefy completely in this shell. Yes, liquefy, disintegrate to the point where there is not one recognizable element of its former physical self, not even the head. And from this emerges an entirely different creature, which stops for a moment to dry off the last drops of the liquid it grew from, before flying off to begin life in a new form.

For us to transform, truly transform ourselves and our world, we need to be willing to do the work. We need to be able to give up and dissolve ourselves, and everything we thought we knew, everything we understood, those thoughts that we’ve been thinking and rethinking, the judgments on ourselves and others. Give up our old fears, the memories we cling to, the identity we see ourselves as ‘being’. Let go of the belief that we cannot make a difference. Most importantly, we need to give up the mind, as the butterfly needs to liquefy it’s own head – difficult, as we so often cling to our minds, our thoughts, the chatter that we allow ourselves to go through day in and day out. Give up that mind so it can transform. In other words…get out of your own way and let transformation occur. It won’t always be pretty, but it will be worth it, as you emerge with new wings that you can use to create ripples of change in your community and the lives of others.

A butterfly only makes this transformation once in it’s life – as humans, we are blessed with the ability to grow and learn continually, evolving with greater wisdom and understanding.

Today.

We are a generation of passionistas, of minds and hearts eager to make a difference, eager to make this world a better place. I hear John Mayer crooning that we’re ‘waiting on the world to change’, but I think we are doing more than waiting. We are pushing. We are screaming. We are writing and designing the lives we know are better, the systems we know can save us. We are not only imagining the planet as it could be – we are manifesting it, building it with our own hands. We have a vision, and we can express it to those who will listen – it is time to let the lost generation come forward. We will no longer be captive to stereotypes.

Tell us we don’t have enough experience. We hear it every day, at the hands of those who have taught us, those who have created the systems we live in. It seems that all the ‘experience’ of human history has only entrenched us deeper in our patterns of hatred, gluttony and apathy. Perhaps we don’t need ‘experience’, 10+ years of learning how things have been done up until now. Maybe, what we need, is a lack of experience. Maybe what we need is new ideas, concepts and passion that break free of old bonds. Bold innovations and imaginations that respectfully bid adieu to the handcuffs that have kept our hearts and minds bound.

We understand the great leaps that have been made by man kind – the screams of progress, the churning of the industrialization, the benefits of development and sanitation, yes. We desperately understand the suffering of others. No, we may not know what it is like to lose an entire family to AIDS or civil war, and yes, we have porcelain toilets and an abundance of food to eat. We are the lucky ones, but we do not take it for granted – we feel the earths pain, and our chests clench at the sight of our brothers and sisters in agony. Some days I watch the television in a grey foam of suffering, or tear the pages of the newspaper because I cannot stand what it is telling me. How, after all this time, can there still be so much suffering? And how can I, one person, change all of this? The helplessness is at times overwhelming. I can’t. But as a generation, as a concept, as a member of a resilient network, I can create change. Not just the change you hear in political speeches. Real change. Because I have waited long enough and I watch others squander the opportunity to rise up. We, the ‘lost generation’, the passionistas, want nothing more than to make our global home a healthier, more welcoming place. And isn’t that our right?

The earth is changing now, and us with it. I call out to you, world, to give us a chance. If you don’t, we will go it alone, but this is opportunity. This is a point in history, a crossing, where we can all come together, learn from one another and build foundations for the future we all envision. I shiver when I see what has been done to our planet and our people – so much has been squandered, so many hearts shattered and lives taken in the name of land, money, religion. Are any of those really valid reasons to take away life from person or planet? What went wrong here? I do not want anger to ruin us. Let friendship and acceptance shine among us instead, and let us ‘unexperienced’ folks, us idealists, share the beauty we see through the suffering.

Love your planet and its people

The word love is used ad nauseum throughout popular culture, and often as a way to make us feel bad – and in turn, buy more.

Though Valentines Day is now officially over, I’d like to explore love – since many of us out there will argue that the big V-Day is a preposterous money grab and has nothing to do with real love, romance, etc.  I won’t debate the merits of these claims at present. I think there may be something to a day where we are forced to stop for a minute and think about love. So often we lose the meaning of what love really is. We lose ourselves to the cement under our feet, the noise around us, the papers piled on our desk or the expectations we have of ourselves and others. We forget to see where love already exists, glowing warmly at the center of everything.

Science hasn’t proven this yet, but I would wager that love is at the center of life. Every snow drop and crocus breaking through the ground, every frosted peak, every river getting fuller, and every other being we pass on the street, is full of love. Life IS love. The snow drops know it, and so do the rivers. It’s the people who seem to have a hard time remembering this. That we are all worthy of love, our own love and the love of others. That the soil beneath our feet is there to support us, and will never judge us. Nature understands what love is. That feeling you get when crisp air fills your lungs or the sun touches your face – that is life. That’s nature expressing it’s love for all living things. If only every one of us could express that same love for our fellow beings.

Wars are waged, forests are destroyed, children are left in poverty. Why? In the name of money, or religion, or territory. Imagine if we could all live by the principles of love instead – to treat every other living being with respect and gratitude. If we could each stand still for long enough to feel the earth and everything it offers – to disconnect long enough that we remember where we have all come from. And that we must take care of each other and our planet.

I don’t know how to define love. But I’m sure we need a lot more of it on this earth if we’re ever going to make it together.

More about intention – a sustainable twist

Let’s take goal-setting to a whole new level – the human quest for globalization. Our need to set goals, achieve, evolve, grow, spread, and through it all, consume. This drive to strive, as we could call it, is what has brought us all to this point in history. This point where technology rules our lives, where most things are available to us at the drop of a hat, where time is money and where money is what we seem to want and need most. The human desire to grow and achieve has brought us industrialization, moon missions, iPhone apps and polio vaccines, triathletes and genetically modified super-grains. We are capable of so much, we can invent the world the way we see fit, and we DO, because we are drive to grow, to move forward, to progress. But this innate desire seems to have gone off course – our need to grow as a society isn’t always as beneficial as it may appear. Yes, we’ve developed some incredible things, but the need to grow our economy, expand our technology, can feed back to create even greater problems. I’m not saying we don’t need a strong economy, or that technology isn’t an excellent means to solve some of our problems. But perhaps we need to look at exactly how we created these problems in the first place. It was probably because of our innate desire to get bigger and be better.

Story of Stuff

Can we live sustainably, move away from growth as profit, without stifling our innate need to achieve? I think so. In 2011, perhaps we step back from ‘goals’ and look instead at commitments and intentions. Can we commit to grow spiritually, to work within our communities, to ‘develop’ instead of ‘profit’ in the traditional sense? If the ‘spiritual’ doesn’t appeal to you, think instead of the values you would like to focus on this year. Can you envision becoming a better you WITHOUT buying a bigger car, a new gadget, running yourself into the ground? Can this be a year where you set intentions to live more sustainably – within your means, but beyond yourself?

For those of you who haven’t already, check out the Story of Stuff, an incredible little sketch on sustainability. It will rock your socks off. P.S., Story of Stuff often releases new material on different “stuff”, so check in often!