Some people ask me why I’m so passionate about “environmental issues.” Well, these “environmental issues” I’m so concerned about aren’t just about the environment. In fact, I haven’t thought about them as environmental issues for some time. They’re about everything else that’s inevitably on people’s agenda — economy, health care, politics …
Christmas might be months away, but I’m feeling awfully Grinch-like. Specifically, I find myself covering my ears and muttering about all this “Noise! Noise! Noise! NOISE!”
Although I can’t blame bamboozlers or pantookas, I’m certainly pointing the finger at leaf-blowers and cell phones.
Not to mention car horns, dogs (frequently my own) and air conditioners. Airplanes, video games and … sigh.
Something made me say yes.
It wasn’t common sense, which pointed out that I already had three dogs, two cats and a rabbit. I surely didn’t need another pet.
It wasn’t love. Despite his name, there was little about Romeo that lassoed my heart. He was enormous. And toothless. His claws seemed permanently poised to strike. His fur was dull and he had a bad case of dandruff and he reeked of a pack-a-day habit.
I’m curious when we traded common sense for convenience. I’m guessing it was around the time we stopped trusting ourselves. The same time we started believing all those claims that we could “have it all.” We can. But we pay a price for it.
My daughter loves anything that comes individually wrapped. She adores new clothes. She’s mad about electronics. And has never met a nail polish she doesn’t crave.
She takes 40-minute showers. Hot.
She groans at the prospect of riding her bike to school. Begs to go to the mall with her friends.
My feet have served me well.
Although I wasn’t an early walker, I have always been an enthusiastic one. Family lore has it that I was tied like a dog to a stake in the backyard because I was such a dedicated wanderer. Living close to a river meant that my trailblazing could lead me to trouble, so my mother kept me tethered. I maintain that she could have simply kept an eye on me but, it being the ’60s and all, perhaps that would have cut into her cigarettes and activism.
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.