2021: Re-Committing to Earth
In Reverence of the Great Mother, the one who houses and feeds us all, asking nothing in return.
To “exist better” is to live in alignment with nature. To return to what is natural. All of my shadow work has led me to this realization. The earth is my god. It always has been. Serving what gives me life is what makes life worth living: Reciprocity. This is what relationship is.
To be unable to give, I’ve discovered, is a tragedy - a devastating setback in the development of the Self. We must give in order to learn who we are as individuals. What we uniquely offer the world is an expression of our part in the greater relationship of all things: This is what I bring to the table.
As Kyle Cease often says, “You are what you love, not what loves you.” When we know this, we stop chasing fame, success, and approval. Instead, we commit to what we love and giving is a natural byproduct.
Waste, pollution, environmental destruction, the pain of animals, the ruination of forests, beaches, and oceans – This is my pain too. I grieve with Earth because I am Earth. There is no separation, only the illusion that our decisions impact nothing but us.
I didn't always know this. I was completely unaware.
This topic may seem like a random departure from my usual ramblings, but it's actually the foundation upon which all else is perched: If we refuse to live in alignment with nature, as part of nature, we reject reality on its most fundamental level. We live a fairytale, occasionally crashing down to reality when the news tells us that the landfills are full, the coral reefs are gone, the Arctic is melting, there's more plastic in the ocean than fish, or that the Amazon is being systematically exterminated by man.
We can stay indoors and avoid life, as we were told to do in 2020, but we don't cease to be a part of life - not even in death.
Just as you would never purposefully hurt your own mother or burn your own house down, it is equally absurd that we live lifestyles that are destroying the planet we were born on. This absurdity has grown on me, and I struggle to reconcile it in my mind.
- Why go shopping if the items, once disposed of, will end up in an animal’s stomach, or floating in the ocean?
- Why wear a mask temporarily if we are continuously poisoning our oxygen supply with pollutants anyway?
- Why go out for coffee if the chain shops are sourcing their (unapologetically non-recyclable) cups from trees that were once supplying that oxygen?
Why does water and oxygen receive so little consideration and respect, compared to their relative importance for sustaining life?
Many people would find these thoughts extreme, or yawn with boredom. But to me, they are life or death questions. Our way of existing is illogical – frighteningly so. Quite literally, we can't continue this way.
When we start asking these kinds of questions, our whole modus operandi begins to unravel. We see the dysfunction and imbalance everywhere, and feel compelled to make huge, permanent lifestyle changes.
Over the past several months, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to focus on anything too far removed from sustainability. I’ve found myself naturally becoming more “eccentric” in recent years, doing several closet cleanouts, switching to all sustainable brands, composting, declining gifts, and (obsessively) avoiding plastic bags.
The site of a grocery store shopping line full of depressed, masked souls with piles of plastic, chemical-laced food is enough to make me break out in hives. There is so much more I feel I need to do.
Of course, many shrinks would slap an OCD label on me and start talking me off the ledge of ‘eco-anxiety.’ But far too many great creators have shared some of these same feelings - Are the feelings really the problem?
As the founder of the first zero waste restaurant said, when you know a problem intimately enough, it becomes hard to look the other way. And as the forever-quotable Angela Davis stated, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
For those who care, modern life is a predicament. Why? Because if we intend to end self-sabotage and inner resistance and take responsibility for our own development, we can’t be living out of alignment with our values. Integration work requires us to engage with the parts of ourselves that need a more natural, feminine lifestyle: one where nurturing and real connection is not only permitted, but grows to encompass the greater environment that we live in. (This is not to say that masculine = destructive. It is to say that the current absence of the feminine is destructive.)
With this holistic perspective, nothing is left out. Nothing can be harmed for our "benefit." This makes day-to-day decision-making tricky, as much of our society lives completely out of integrity with what is good for the Earth. We believe we benefit from this, and that sustainable living is a chore, but that is an illusion. It only feels like a chore because it requires us to step out of our addictions, which don't benefit us.
The reason we have allowed ourselves to slip into a parasitic relationship with Earth is actually quite insidious. It is not purposeful or conscious. We have become this way because most of us are coping. When we are coping with undealt-with pain - whether it’s as simple as working a job you hate or as complex as severe CPTSD from childhood abuse – our primal need to cope drives us to destructive behaviors. This means we cram junk food down our throats for satisfaction, we sedate with tvs and computer screens, we drink excessively and take drugs for relief, we chase others’ approval to feel worthy, and the last thing on our minds is our responsibility to the Earth we live on.
We are too busy being in crisis to care for anything.
When we are primarily coping and/or neglecting ourselves, it is impossible to have a truly positive impact on our environment. It is impossible to take that higher level of responsibility because we haven't taken it on a granular level, for ourselves first.
This should not spark shame and guilt in us, but instead, self-compassion and a willingness to learn.
Feelings of scarcity make us obsessively and chronically wasteful. We waste in order to cope. This is incredibly important to understand because when we feel like we are not having, doing, or being enough, we again feel that primal drive to compensate, much like a squirrel stocking up nuts for the winter. It is instinctive, and many of us don't recognize we are doing it. This means we hoard our possessions, keep up with the Jones’, work ourselves to the bone, buy extra to feel safer, and a million other habits that yield only one result: waste. Wasted time, resources, energy, food, money - you name it, it gets wasted.
This is so important to take in because most people would assume the opposite: that waste happens when people are spoiled and feel like they have plenty. But the secret truth is that scarcity is tied to waste. Let's delve into this for a moment -
In the energy of scarcity, it is impossible to truly appreciate or enjoy what you have. There is no amount of accumulated money or stuff that can erase a scarcity complex. It is a trauma-driven nervous system reaction more than a true reality. You become the squirrel gathering nuts, on over-drive. The problem is, unlike the squirrel who really needs and benefits from those nuts, our gathering is irrational and doesn't meet our true needs. It is a leftover survival instinct that no longer applies to our lives.
This is why there are some individuals in third world countries living in huts that are literally happier than millionaires in America. Scarcity is a mindset, a belief system. Thus living with fewer physical resources does not necessarily trigger a scarcity complex in a person. It only does so if they know and fear scarcity from past experiences (often a scarcity of love, safety, attention, acceptance, nurturance, help, etc). Thus a scarcity complex = unfinished business with things like safety, security, and abundance.
By no stretch does this mean that living in poverty is great, or that if you live in poverty it's your fault. Instead, I want to drive home the fact that scarcity is usually manufactured. It stems more from how our society operates than it does from a true scarcity of resources on Earth. This is how it's possible to have humans fighting to the death over toilet paper in a store while birds are singing outside 10 feet away. Our culture creates scarcity through mismanagement, neglect of land, exploitation of people and resources, and most importantly, a lack of emotional wellbeing. Meanwhile, nature operates in abundance, where the plants grow, the animals find food, and panic doesn't exist.
Knowing what I now know about parts work, self-awareness, and boundary setting, I cannot happily live as a mere taker from this planet. I cannot accept the way we are living without abandoning myself to do it. Conforming to a predominantly consumerist lifestyle would require me to detach from authentic parts of myself - the parts that want to give and live in reciprocity. It would mean relinquishing my values and living as a stranger to myself. Living sustainably is both a spiritual pursuit and a mental health practice.
For this reason, I must commit to this new chapter, whatever it is, to the best of my ability. What will I do? I’m not exactly sure yet. All I know is that there is so much we have neglected and abused from the feminine half of life, from our internal feminine to the feminine in others, and of course, the Earth itself.
There is so much more to learn that is still outside of our awareness in the 'developed' world. We need not return to tribalism and living in the woods to re-integrate with the natural world we are already a part of.
What will you do to re-integrate the part of you that wants reciprocity and connection? The part that wants to give rather than just take. The part that chooses responsibility over negligence and neglect. None of us are perfect, and we don't have to be to make strides in this direction.