Happy 40th Earth Day! (Or if you’re me, Happy 26th Earth Day plus 14 more!)
It seems safe to say that being in nature makes most people feel good, whether it’s a hike on a footpath through a forest or lounging on the sand in front of a vast ocean. Nature is not only around us daily (if you’re in a big city, it may be harder to come by), but it’s something that inspires us. That’s why so many people seek vacations in exotic places – to see white sands, natural waterfalls or native plants.
I would also bet that most people felt a deep connection with the earth at a young age. Remember how fun it was to plant your first seeds inside an old egg carton, lining your carton along the windowsill with the rest of class, checking every day for the first tiny green sprout?
Most children also have a natural inclination to love animals. They sleep with stuffed animals, they wear animals on their clothing, their favorite story and movie characters are animals, etc… If a child intends to hurt an animal (a pet or otherwise), it throws up a red flag to guardians.
So, at what point in the growing and aging process do these things no longer become important? Why is it when a child loves an animal, it’s sweet and precious and kind, but an adult veg(etari)an is a “hippie, liberal tree-hugger” which is always said with negative intent?
For Earth Day, I ask this of you: Take a moment to think about your values. And then consider what you are doing in your life to work toward living those values with dignity and purpose. When everything is stripped from you (relationships, homes, our stuff, our jobs), and you are left with only yourself and your actions, are you living in a way that makes you proud?
I think it’s a really incredible realization, to find that your actions need a tune-up. It’s not about feeling guilty or bad, it’s about recognizing that sometimes we get so caught up with the image we want of ourselves, who we actually ARE and what we actually DO becomes disconnected.
This is going to sound somewhat hokey and eye roll-inducing, but bear with me when I say: Every day is an opportunity to reassess who we think we are, who we want to be, and plan how to make it all happen. Every single day! That is so forgiving! Your job, your friends, your school or the people in your life won’t give you that many chances. (If they do, keep ’em around.) Only you can give and then take these endless opportunities. I urge you to do so.
Earth Day is a day that reminds us to consider the health of the planet and all of it’s living creatures. And we are encouraged to change our habits that will help preserve and heal the earth. So I ask you to think about restoring and healing yourself. To look at what habits you can change so they align with what is important to you.
(“Seek Truth” print from Raw Art Letterpress, via ETSY)
If you care about the environment and animals, consider eating more whole-foods, plant-based meals as one of the most direct and monumental ways to help the environment. It’s not about being “perfect” – it’s about doing what’s best for you.