About a month ago I did something I don’t usually do—I listened to the president give a speech. I was on my way to an appointment and I hadn’t been feeling well, so my defenses were down (meaning I was an easy target for conditioning). When I got in the car, the radio was already on and he was talking, so I listened. The speech was on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in the Paris Agreement, and since I feel a particular fondness for the Earth and a genuine urge to live in harmony with it, I listened.
What was said did nothing for my headache. In fact, ego used the news that our country would be pulling out of the agreement to first get me worked up in agitation and then plunge me down into a deep disappointment bordering on despair—all in the space of a few minutes.
As I was doing the mental acrobatics to try to understand how one could possibly come to the decision to exit this global agreement outside the motivations of greed, hate, or delusion, I saw what ego was doing to me. I recognized “I” was frustrated because “those people” (those in “power”) weren’t doing what “I” wanted them to do. They were not reflecting the values that “I” want to live my life by. As I felt the tidal wave of angry passion build against “them” again, it suddenly collapsed into a tiny puddle. It was as if this Peace Quote that came through six months ago had been gestating and the seed finally broke through the soil: “Outcome is not in your control. What’s in your control is your effort and your intentions.” (Amit Sood)
Life gently said, “We can’t control what they do, sweetie, but we can be in charge of what we do. How about we make our own Personal Paris Agreement?”
And that was it. Within seconds my energy was redirected to the only thing I can do anything about: my choices. I immediately started to look at the places in my life where I can become more sustainable and regenerative. Not with a punishing approach, but with a renewed excitement for deepening my own relationship with the planet and its precious, finite resources. It was an amazing, split-second redirect, and I’m so grateful to practice for laying the groundwork for this kind of about-face from the dark room to the light room.
While I already make a reasonable effort at living consciously, I’ve found several areas with lots of potential for improvement.
- I have an abundance of silverware—enough to put several sets in the glove compartment of my car and one in my bag so I never again need to use plastic silverware.
- I don’t use plastic grocery bags, but I do sometimes use produce bags. I save them, but they have accumulated to the point of bursting out the corners of a drawer in my kitchen. These could be immediately relocated to the car, in one of the reusable grocery bags, so I would remember to bring them into the store and use them the next time.
- I can start carrying my own glass containers with me when I eat at a restaurant so I can take any leftovers home in my own container, not theirs.
- I’m looking closely again at what I can buy in bulk and what I might begin to make myself (like that yummy granola in the new Monastery Cookbook).
- I’m challenging myself to go for longer periods of time before turning on the air conditioning.
- I am speaking more to the plants I see on a regular basis, like the enormous Mamma Magnolia outside my door.
Even more important than these new goals and commitments, as fun as they are, is that my internal compass of attention is now set back on being open to Life’s guidance in this area. With a focus on how I can be more caring and kind to the Earth, I’m seeing care and kindness everywhere. And that alone has made me feel closer and more connected to where my heart feels most at home—this big, beautiful, breathing, blue planet.