A friend recently confided in me that she, too, was increasingly alarmed by news of climate change, water shortages, chemicals in our kids’ toys — letting me know she was prepared to take action. From now on, she announced triumphantly, she planned to reuse gift bags. “And if people think that means I can’t afford new ones, well … that’s fine.”
I love a party. No matter my advancing age, a birthday is cause for celebration. Though I officially celebrate Christmas, count me in for Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa or Chinese New Year or, heck, pretty much anything that involves food and merriment.
My main goal at 12 years of age was to own a pair of plastic mouse ears, a salute to Mickey Mouse. Of course, this would require a vacation to Disney World, something every kid in my neighborhood had achieved. Getting there was possible … but sure looked unlikely. My parents, you see, saw no point in traveling to a fantasy world when the real world was so fantastical. I never did acquire that mouse-ear crown.
I dream of a meditation retreat. But, with three high-energy children, three dogs, three cats, a rabbit, an absent-minded husband and a career guiding others to mindful living and travel, that dream remains a long way off. Peace, for now, often comes in the form of clean sheets and a soft pillow each night. I’ve learned, however, that in order to be my best, I need to seek out those Zen moments. Those all-too-fleeting times in my busy day when I get filled from within. When all else falls away and there’s only me. In the moment.
My grandfather, not one given to understatement, frequently declared many modern-day foods to be “poison” and dismissed them with a wave of his hand. Among the offenders? Margarine (“anything that doesn’t freeze at freezing temperatures isn’t right…”). Pam cooking spray (“work of the devil!”). Whipped cream in an aerosol (“Unnatural!”).
I can only imagine his response to today’s offerings.
It’s not that my mind isn’t teeming with important thoughts. It is. I read literature. I watch documentaries. I bandy about intellectual ideas with my Ph.D.-waving friends.
But that doesn’t seem to stop my mind from obsessing about the little things.
For example, just this morning I was picking up a few things at the market. I noticed a bottle – from an eco-conscious company – of fruit and veggie wash.
The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. —Joseph Campbell
Just be yourself. —Mom
Advice like this always baffled me. Who was I being if not myself? After all, what choice did I have? All the good personalities – Joan of Arc, Jane Austen, Wonder Woman – were already gone. I was stuck being me, like it or not.
Karen, my yoga instructor, doesn’t claim to offer answers. Actually, she’s more of an “ask a question” type of instructor, consistently encouraging each of us to look within for wisdom.
Composting with worms? Bring it on. Leaving the car and taking my bike? My pleasure. Eating hormone-free, antibiotic-less, locally-raised meat? Yum, yum.
But forsake fashion? Toss my trend-addiction? Lighten my carbon footprint by giving up shoes? I’d sooner give up exhaling.
I am not old — at least not by most people’s standards.
Though my 6-year-old recently commented, as I huffed and puffed my way uphill on bicycle, that I’m “very, very old.” At 6, anything beyond 30 is positively geriatric. And I am well past 30.