Yesterday Sam and I ventured into the craft store. I read in one of my piles of Zen books of a day Thich Nhat Hanh took some children into a hardware store. He told them they could look at everything but they would leave with nothing. They spent hours in the store enjoying it all and left peacefully empty handed. Now, I’ve tried something similar with the boys and it didn’t work out that way. But something about this story created a shift for me.
All the time I’m in a hurry and I have no idea why. Why am I in a hurry? I am not on a work schedule or have deadlines. My boys are growing so fast and I’m rushing our life. We go into a store and I do the run down in the car, “Don’t touch anything! You hear me! Keep your hands to yourself and we aren’t buying anything extra. I’m on a budget, you hear me! Behave or I’ll not take you for weeks. Remember that time you two decided to do Kung Fu at the check out stand? Yes, well, remember how you didn’t go shopping with me for weeks after that? Ok. And we are in a hurry so don’t hold me back, you hear!”
Now that I’m working on being here now and in the moment, after reading this I had this awakening so to speak. Now I say nothing. I just say, “Lets behave so we can all enjoy this shopping experience. Help me and take turns pushing the cart. You both can look at anything and explore all you want but we leave with nothing extra.”
So, now we go shopping and it’s like a tour of some unusual place we have never been. We explore, inspect, discuss all the items that interest us. Arjan likes to read the ingredients on everything, especially since we are on a mission to go Palm oil free. Sam pushes the cart until it’s too heavy to navigate. We hang out in the Halloween isle since Sam loves Halloween and we let our imaginations free. It used to take 30 minutes to shop and now it takes a good hour or more. But we are very leisurely and slow with our daily meanderings.
Yesterday I decided to buy two more rag rugs for the front of the sink and tub. Sam wanted to explore the craft store, so we did. It is a practice in restraint. I wanted many things. Sam wanted many things. But we wandered and looked, pointed out fun or charming items and talked about creative possibilities.
In the end we left with two rag rugs and a lot of ideas. Sam said he thoroughly enjoyed our time together. We had done some grocery shopping before and he had been able to push the cart and give suggestions of what items to buy and menu ideas. We found the best vegan Smoked Gouda without palm oil and purchased very little plastic or packaging. It took time and consideration, but we are on our own little mission to get away from palm oil, plastic, and waste. It will take some time but I’m giving us 3 months to dial it in. It means our shopping is very slow and conscious now. Sam points out too much wrapping, Arjan reads ingredients, I forage. We work as a little unit moving toward a better Earth.
It is time we all change.
I look out on smoke in our neighborhood so thick it looks like the fog we had on the coast. I am so very sad about the forest and parks lost to all this, the deaths of children and elders, and I’m more than concerned. I sometimes detest some of humanity…or at least it’s ignorance, greed, and constant hunger for more; more money, more things, more success.
I pray that with all the fires and disease we awaken to a new self and a new world that is long overdue. That we take the time to go within and heal so we can start to connect with nature and find that the things we love most and fill us up in a warm, solid way are not money and success, but our connection to the Earth, Spirit, and each other.
I used to want all that “stuff”. I wanted a nice car, big house (albeit old and funky), money, popularity as a writer and so on. I also wanted wholesome things like happiness, health, a good marriage and a child or two.
But a funny thing happens as you delve into the spiritual world. You begin to reflect, go inward and heal, you then chip away at the ego of wants and needs and find that you actually don’t need or want much. You find that more stuff and money and success brings problems and less is what brings peace. Simplicity accentuates the natural pleasures over looked in the hustle of modern living.
The administration (and I don’t really get who that is comprised of…a bunch of suits I suppose) set a goal of carbon emission cuts by 2035. Well, as we sit here surrounded by flames, I’m thinking we don’t have 15 years anymore. Even if we start now, it will take decades to turn back time and cool the planet.
But there is always a ray of light. I have faith that humanity has a good side, a light side on the other side of it’s darkness comprised of selfishness and greed. There is a side with almost every human that feels compassion and remorse.
We need to wake up and start to change our ways of thinking, buying, eating, living, driving, working. It doesn’t have to be hard. It can be new and interesting. It will be a challenge but people seem to love challenges. We seem to love the drama of stepping in right at the last minute and saving things.
Whether one believes in conspiracy theories or that climate change is not real…what is the worst that would happen? Clean air? Oh no! Clean soil and water? Sounds terrible (sarcasm).
We love cheap stuff. Dollar Tree, Walmart, .99 Cent stores. Well, at what cost in the long term? Landfills overflowing with plastic that won’t break down for thousands of years? Oceans choked with garbage?
How about palm oil? It is cheap and in everything. But there are at least 20 oils that would do the same thing palm oil does in binding, flavor and texture that we can grow in a field with out harm. Palm oil is so popular now that they are burning down the Amazon in Sumatra or Malaysia or both to put in plantations. What this means is that by 2022 98% of beautiful jungles filled with wildlife, plants, bugs, and Indigenous people will be gone. Those Indigenous people are being displaced in ghettos because of cheap palm oil desires. Orangatangs are being killed and babies being sold as pets or entertainment.
And it is all for cheap palm oil and to graze cattle. So when we do our “super cheap grocery hauls” we are getting cheap meat and food at the cost to animals and tribes that can’t protect themselves because they don’t have the money to hire powerful lawyers to save their lives and land.
The jungles are the lungs of the planet. Once we destroy the jungles we are really screwed. And we will deserve it.
Until we all wake up and start caring about other things; nature, tribes, wildlife…and stop encroaching on all of it with development and greed. When we stop gorging ourselves on cheap dollar meals at McDonalds and being so proud of our Dollar Tree hauls and Walmart sprees and start feeling a bit ashamed, there will be a sliver of hope.
I would like to see a new world emerge from all this. I would love to see millions upon billions start boycotting anything that doesn’t bode well for nature and all the creatures. I would love to see us do challenges of how much can we walk places or bike instead of drive. I would love to see a crazy surge in electric cars and people turning over the gas guzzlers to be recycled as they picked up bikes from a local bike store. I would love to see people grow huge gardens in front yards lining the suburban streets.
I would love to see trains make a comeback. I would love for the US and Europe, the whole world actually, to set world breaking records to get rid of our need for oil. To see it become a competition that is so huge and powerful that every country forgets about their hates and wars to accomplish this goal. I would love to see cities redesign towns and suburbs into green, lush walking paradise’s. You would see more bicycles and skateboards, more mopeds and walkers than cars.
I would love to see lands protected for farming and organic and biodiverse farming become the normal.
How about all the millions and millions of jobs that would happen because of this? Empty malls will turn into training centers to educate all the new employees that will be working like busy bees in installing and developing all the natural energy and transportation. Prisoners will have a chance to re-enter the workforce and society with training and good works because there will be a booming economy and a need for skilled workers.
People will be happier because the work will be satisfying. It will be for the Earth and all living things. It will be for the greater good and nothing is more satisfying than serving for the betterment of life and nature.
Jungles will be reforested. Our burnt forest will be replanted. All the poor people in other countries that were burning down and logging the jungles to make a dollar to feed their families will now be paid fair wages to replant those forest and protect them.
And because the jungles and forest will be replanted, rain will return in many regions, and water will be retained more efficiently with natures system of trees and storage. The balance will return.
At home people will choose smaller homes and everyone will have a garden of some kind. A parent will choose to stay home once a child is born and people will not work as much. A four day work week will be more common and most people will work from home. Most children will only go to school co-ops part time and they will be encouraged to run, play, and learn what they are passionate about, not what the corporate world needs from drone workers. Schools will have kitchens and gardens, chickens and orchards and children will work in all areas to learn how to grow and preserve, cook and harvest food. They will do most classes outside if weather permits and music and art will be as important as math and science. They will learn at an early age to be wise stewards of the Earth. They will be told the stories of how the human race almost destroyed our beautiful plant with greed and unending hunger of all that is material and unimportant.
People will work from home or work close by and therefore walk, bike or bus to work. They will design towns how they used to be with main streets and small homes, clustered neighborhoods and trails and paths so everyone can walk to town to shop, catch a train if commuting, or go to the cafe. Streets and highways will become emptier and therefore be reduced and lanes made into biking lanes lined with trees. Many old, ugly malls, and parking lots will be completely removed and green spaces created with ponds and trees for the people to enjoy. All towns will have more and more lovely parks and forested areas throughout that have replaced ghettos and empty trashed lots. Community gardens will be a big thing for those that don’t have yards.
People will no longer chase money and fame. They will chase their dreams. They won’t spend their weekends drinking or doing side hustles, they will be on their porches reading a fat novel or painting. They will be canning their yard garden harvest or learning a new skill at home.
In the future people won’t be so into their phones. They will sit alone on a shelve. News will become more positive and upbeat as the masses desire less stress and drama. The only way a show will succeed is if it shows the upside to things and shows compassion in all matters.
The prisons will be completely reformed. Prisoners will work on inner healing, learning new skills, integrating with society successfully. It will be less about punishment and more about what needs to be healed and learned to make this person whole so they don’t feel that they have no choices. They will also have kitchens and gardens, animals and art, music, pottery, woodwork, and everything that makes us whole and grounded. Sounds airy fairy but I bet a million dollars it would work. Not everyone can be reformed but many prisoners are just hurting and scared people.
And as for homeless, they would have a compound where they all lived, worked, farmed. They would grow food, bake, can or craft to earn money and they would have routines. There would be people there to lead, teach and keep it organized. No one would live on the streets or on rivers and in forest. But they would have to be a part of a community to some degree depending on their ability.
And hospitals…they would be focused on natural medicine and healing through more holistic approaches. Not that we don’t need science and medicine but we all see and know that all these pharmaceuticals are making people sick…and crazy. Drugs would be a very last resort if ALL else failed. The focus would be on healthy lifestyle, clean food, exercise, massage and meditation. There would be Chiropractors and Acupuncturist in the hospitals and Chinese medicine, doctors would be both medical and holistically trained. You could choose from several Naturopathic doctors. Pain management would be herbal medicines or a prescription for yoga classes.
Plastic would become rare. All things would be made out of natural sources, mainly bamboo since that is very renewable and durable, metals, glass. Everything would be recycled and everyone would recycle or repurpose.
There would be jobs in cleaning up rivers, land, oceans. Chemicals would become a thing of the past as companies created eco friendly cleaners and products. Air, land and water would be cleaner that it had been in hundreds of years.
Most people would be plant based or vegetarian and farms would be smaller and old fashioned with the animals and lands welfare as a top condition. Farm animals would be raised naturally and food grown organically. Natural farming would become very popular and supported by governments with help in buying land permanently and support during rough periods or loss.
This may all sound to “out there” but much of this was how we lived some 80 plus years ago and the rest is easier and more natural than one would think. We just need to unplug from media, question everything and lead by example.
In my family we are questioning everything. We are making big changes and fast. Why wait for joy and health? We are only one family but we are part of many people that see another world that is doable and within reach.
One thing that has poked my consciousness too often is the plastic and palm oil. My eldest is so upset by it that he has me writing companies to ask them why they continue on this path with the knowledge of the horrific destruction. So, we are now on a mission to get it out of our lives as much as is possible. We are reducing waste…will probably not be zero waste but we can get pretty close.
We are already vegetarian and mostly plant based for me. But we could work on cleaner eating.
Since palm oil, like sugar, is in everything, we will have to read all labels, cook much, much more from scratch, master the garden and growing food, and restrain our desires for “stuff”. It will take time but we are moving fast. I’m watching more plant based cooking vlogs and will be making my own vegan butter and products.
I can’t go out and plant trees in the jungle yet but I do donate to 8 Billion Trees and other organizations. I donate to many causes I believe will improve the planet and life for humanity and animals. We recycle and repurpose and reuse as best we can. For example, when I redid the living room I bleached and washed all the old furniture so others would find it attractive and take it. All the furniture and paintings went to other homes for what would be a third and fourth life and family. We then purchased others used furnishings giving couches and chairs another life with us.
I have found that going to WinCo I can do cans, cardboard and bulk. I can use my own bags again there. This reduces much plastic. I could use my own bags for most bulk but I reuse the plastic bags used for bulk and produce. I pack lunches and then I reuse again for poop bags when I walk dogs out in town and forest. I would have to buy poop bags anyway so I have just repurposed a plastic bag three times.
When our old car expires we will buy an electric car used off Craigslist. While we wait for the car to pass from years of loyal service we will save like crazy for the other gasless vehicle. The truck will stay in the family as it is great for hauling horse manure, trees, garden supplies, and moving items.
Solar is up and running on our roof.
So, that is as far as we have gotten. I hope that we have a bright future to envision and behold sooner than we can imagine.