These past few days, weeks, months – heck, let’s just say four years – have been full of arrows to our hearts. These unprecedented horrors will go down in history, and not on the proud side. The people that have perpetuated them will not suffer, but gloat, even if defeated. Destruction was their goal. Unrest and distrust, their tools. They haven’t won. Yet. They must be defeated. Soundly, so they can crawl back into their nasty, dark tunnels.
Like many others, I’ve found myself discouraged, depressed and confused. How did this happen? But I know how. Too many good-hearted people weren’t paying attention. I hope they are paying attention now, for this will be the election of a lifetime for pretty much every human that is alive on this day. It is also the election of a lifetime for our environment and our sanity as a species. Without full attention on the climate crisis immediately, nothing else will matter much in the ensuing chaos. Money will save no one in the end, no matter how much someone has.
The things that matter come clearer each time we connect with our real life in the real world. Our lives aren’t in boxes or offices. They are not in the entertainment we seek, the news or books we read or the fancy foods we spend hours finding or making. They are not our bank accounts, our cars, or our homes. They aren’t our computers or phones, our jewelry or clothes. The things that matter are far simpler than that.
The only real things that matter are air, water, basic food and shelter. These are simple things, yet we’ve allowed them to become monetized. Huge corporations have taken over the seed and agricultural industries, controlling what foods are grown where and how. Animals are housed in horrible, crowded ways and treated and killed inhumanely, to say the least. Water rights around the world have been bought up by corporations that now sell back the water that should remain free to the residents that actually live by that water. Housing has become the plaything of wealthy landowners that charge outlandish prices for the right to live under a roof and have basic amenities such as electricity and indoor plumbing. Talk about complicating a simple thing.
How has this happened? We’ve allowed ourselves to become distracted by inconsequential, unimportant things. As a society, we’ve gone for the sparkly, glittery things they wanted us to go for, while the dirty work went on unnoticed by most, but we can change that.
The last natural necessity is connection, to each other and to all life. We need to feel connected to trees, birds, fish and flowers. We’re all in this together, not just for fun, but for survival.
Spending time outdoors is being proven necessary by many educators, doctors and scientists studying everything from best learning practices to mental health disorders. We were meant to be outside. We are supposed to walk on earth, grass and sand under a canopy of trees or an open sky. Water flowing down a stream or rushing the shore is part of our natural inheritance. Spending too much time indoors isn’t good for anyone, and I think the last six months have proved this to even the most diehard indoor people.
We don’t need to sell our homes and go live in the woods, eating berries and squirrels, but we can get out and dig in a garden, go for a walk or play ball in a park. We can make sure part of our day is spent under the sky or trees instead of a manufactured roof, and we can get off the road or sidewalk to walk on more natural ground.
Just being outside lets us breathe a little deeper. The smells of the woods, beaches, marshes, and meadows may have different meanings and responses for each of us, and we may well prefer one to the other. When we walk in the woods or by the sea, we feel our smallness, the truth of our reality in a big world. When we sit on a big rock that is thousands and thousands of years old, we feel our impermanence. No house, car, bank account balance or job can change that.
The sounds, sights, smells and sensations that nature provides daily are free. We don’t have to plug anything in, we can connect anytime, anywhere we want. The longer we stay connected, the better we will feel about living in this crazy, unpredictable time. My daily walks in nature have been my daily medicine for years.
Next Tuesday we all get to vote. Perhaps you already voted early in person or mailed your vote in. The only thing that matters is that you vote. I’m heading to the polls that day with my husband as we have for every election, large or small, for the last 42 years together. I’m hoping that when it is over and the dust is cleared, we can all connect to create a better world than the one we are seeing emerge from the shadows of hate and prejudice. Nature needs us but not as much as we need her. Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does.