Whenever I feel overwhelmed by something out of my control that throws a wrench in everything I'm trying to do I try to remember that what is not in my control, is totally not my problem.
My dilemma, is how to respond, and how to better meet my need for electricity and water when the powers-that-be are quite fragile and weak.
So when half my plants died, when I couldn't feel my feet because it was so cold indoors, when I could hardly even think amidst the death and destruction...I had to remind myself that the goverment, the corporations, the "military-industrial-agricultural complex" whatever other "problem" you think all this is to blame...is still not my problem.
When you look at really huge, unsolvable social-capital-environmental problems, you can often dig a little deeper (something foreign to those of us who hardly ever touch soil anymore, myself included) you'll find the same human needs lurking underneath, that "turn into" problems when they are met in a way that doesn't meet the needs of each other and the planet we call home.
Long before I cared much about environmental issues, I went on a camping trip in Arkansas. This was before I had experienced the transformational power of connecting with nature, modeling nature in daily lifestyle decisions and nurturing abundant life around you.
At this time, I was riddled with anxiety about my future: how on earth was I going to support myself after college? What dollar sign could I put on myself so I had some value to the world? Was I good for anything if I couldn't even make enough money to survive?
I was questioning all my past actions, lost in a maze inside my head that I couldn't get out of, stuck in a world that seemed so hopelessly complicated and cold and lifeless.
I started that camping trip in that headspace. The cold, wet spring and the challenges of keep my feet dry slowly watered away all that dust and debris in my head. As my nervous system engaged in walking several miles through challenging terrain, my brain downshifted and my body and soul took center stage.
It was here that life became a lot more clear. At the time I couldn't articulate my truth, but I felt it. I can now, in a perhaps clumsy way, put words to this truth:
The only things I need, that truly matter, our food, shelter, clothing, loving relationships with others and with yourself. Let's add a couple more though:
To nurture abundant life (so you can meet those needs better), and to meet those needs to the benefit of all other living beings.
It was a moment, a glimpse, where I could see an easier life. The "hardships" of gathering clean water, finding a place to set up a tent, etc. All were a welcome relief from the overwhelming coomplicated-ness of modern society. Every bit of effort I've made to live closer to this truth has been deliciously healing and freeing.
In this way, the anxiety over my future, the questioning and grief over all my past decisions, all took a back seat to the here-and-now.
I'm not gonna fix the economy, the government, no no no. Yes, there are people like Charles Eisenstein with phenomenal suggestions that super powerful people could probably implement eventually when they get through all the complicated systemic crap. Great.
So I could say that I'm going to "try to help out". No. I'm not going to do anything for "the environment". A soil microbe doesn't care about all that crap. It cares about turning actual crap into a thriving cabbage, so that that cabbage will feed it sugars.
That's what I want. I want the sugars. I want to meet my own needs in a way that is so damn beneficial to the people, the plants and the soil immediately around me and available to me, so that I'm rewarded. Then I want that deep feel of gratitude to well up in me so strongly that I feel compelled to nurture life that much more further. And the cycle continues.
Here's the thing: my relationships to others, to myself, to shopping, tech, money, eating, living, are all going to come rushing in to veer me off from what actually matters. It will all veer me off from simply enjoying being alive in this moment, from opening up to the world beyond the screen, from doing what matters.
But CHRIIIIISSS! You HAVE to make all these things your problem and live on news sites and get totally anxious and overwhelmed and offended and angry and full of grief and distracted or else how will you ever know what's going on and know who to vote for?!?!
I only need the information necessary to make the best choices I can with what I have and where I'm at. I can vote, joyfully. I don't have to go down that rabbit hole while Amazon is advertising shoes to me the whole time on news sites so I, in my anxiety, buy these shoes that I kind of like but honestly wouldn't have bought if I hadn't been bait-and-switched with distracting anxiety and slowly drip-fed the photos of these shoes as relief.
So here's a reminder, mostly for myself, but I wonder if you've even read this far and if this is true for you or not?
I simply need to meet my own need for water, for food, shelter, love, beauty, joy and community in a way that benefits all other living beings.
If I can meet my needs in this way, my act of self-care is actually care for you too, in one swoop, just like those beneficial microbes that establish relationships with plants roots.
If I can also help you do that, that would be fun for me. Especially if it empowers me in some way to keep doing what I'm doing, so that we can learn together, because I love learning, and I love learning together, and I find it deliciously selfish-ly gratifying to see you experience the love for that plant you didn't know was in you.