The other night I was talking with my son. He has just turned 18 and is thinking about what he wants to do with his life. He conveyed to me his doubts and fears; his concerns about how the world is. He told me he sees us humans as parasites and he voiced his concerns about how we are treating our planet and each other.
I listened and kept silent. I thought how much he sounded like myself in the past. A past not so long ago. These were things I thought before I decided to have children It was a choice I considered very carefully. There was a voice in my head that said; how dare I bring another person into this crowded planet? Who was I add another hungry mouth into this already hungry world.
Another side of me: The hopeful part, the ones with dreams, the one that believes in belief, said that it wasn’t up to me to decide. Who was I to discard a potential human life…even and especially, the life of my possible child.? Who was I to deny life to anyone? Who made me judge, jury and executioner? If this potential child only had a few years of life…even one year, one month, one second…who was I to deny that?
Who was I to deny his beautiful blue eyes just one sunset, one hug or one tip toe through the tulips. Perhaps this child would contribute to the world…perhaps in a way I’d never imagine; maybe this child would be needed. I thought all of this at the time, almost 20 years ago and all those thoughts and feelings came flooding back to me as I heard the words of my son. I understood his feelings exactly; he is an intelligent and thoughtful young man and he made some very valid points.
I saw the look of defeat in his eyes and a bit of anger too. I know that anger all too well. The world had already been “screwed up” before either one of us got here. It’s easy to feel hopeless and angry. I listened carefully to everything he had to say and then it was my turn…
Lately in my life I have found just the right thing to say but I don’t know actually what it will be until it comes out. This is quite new and I think it is all the writing I’ve been doing and I was very grateful for that because I found myself explaining to him much of what I just mentioned,about how I had thought carefully before deciding to have him and I told him how glad I am that he is here now.
I told him I agreed that the world is going to hell and how we’ve fouled up our seas and skies and land, and how all we humans seem to see is our differences…and how much we fight each other. I also told him how much hope I have for the future and how I believe that we have it in us to make this all right, and how we as a society can change things and how it all starts with one.
I told him how it starts with little changes and how it was up to him to be that change. It is up to him to make a difference in his little corner of the world. To find something near and dear to him and make a difference. I told him that I thought my writing was like that and if enough people make a small difference…how that could grow and spread.
I talked and talked; a lot I don’t remember, but I kept talking and as I did I saw the light in his eyes begin to brighten. He was listening and I could sense the lights turning on in his brain.
Then it was my turn again to listen: He told me of his interest in nature and teaching children about nature and sharing his love of it. He told me of his plans and as he did I could see his burden lifting and my heart soared as the corners of his mouth began to curl up into a wide smile.
I’ve never have been prouder of him as I was at that moment… it was very much like the moment when I first held his tiny body in my arms and gazed into his big blue trusting eyes of his; when I knew that I had made the right decision. I have brought another beautiful life into this world who will touch others with his beauty and how wonderful this all is!
We may be small and insignificant in this world and our actions may seem hopeless; a mere drop in the bucket, but I believe we together…drop by drop by drop, together we are a mighty ocean. Together we can do anything….even save the world! The first step is believing….. and it all starts with you…make your drop count.
Thanks for listening,
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.
“A civilization flourishes when people plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.”
I’ve always had a thing for trees; I am a tree-hugger from way back, before I knew there was such a thing. I admit I’ve always carried a torch for tall guys and trees. The statuesque pines of my native Pacific Northwest really do it for me. I feel safe in the woods among the wild green of the forest. I have always been strangely drawn to them…perhaps it’s in my blood; a throwback to my very distant Native American ancestors, maybe it’s because I am fortunate enough to live a stonesthrow to a temperate rainforest or it could be that trees are just really that wonderfully special and useful structures that are a vital part of out global ecosystem.
I love to be in the forest right after a tender rainfall. The fresh scent of pine is so welcoming to me. The way the morning sun shines through the boughs of the trees and how the steam rises from the tree tops. I feel privileged to witness such an event.
Beyond their majestic beauty, trees provide we the inhabitants of this marvelous planet with so much, they give us their all and we as the human stewards of this land have not returned the favor. Ever since our beginnings as small rodent-like creatures living in a reptile dominated world we clung to the trees for our very lives. Ever experience the phenomena of falling asleep and feeling the sensation of falling only to “catch” yourself? That is a leftover from our distant mammalian past. Back to the days when our ancestors lived their entire lives in the tree canopy. Our close relatives the apes still swing from branch to branch; adept as ever, holding on with one hand whilst using the other to reach for tasty fruit.
Trees today provide sustenance and shelter to a wide variety of lifeforms and they in their wide variety have perfectly adapted to our planet’s many climates and microclimates. Trees are powerhouses of natural resources and we have depended on their immense wealth for as long as we have been here. Unfortunately, I think we take them for granted; believing them to always be in abundance. There has always been another to chop down…and another and another.
This has led to major deforestation. According to data compiled by the World Resources Institute, our beautiful planet Earth has already lost 80 percent of its forest cover due to deforestation.
Deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. Seventy percent of the planet’s land animals and plants live in forests, and will perish without their homes. Trees play a crucial role in absorbing greenhouse gases. Fewer forests means larger amounts of these gases entering the atmosphere and this increases the speed and severity of global warming.
Deforestation must stop if we are to continue on this planet. I think some don’t realise how much we need trees and as a lover of trees, like my literary hero, The Lorax, I shall speak for the trees…
Forests counter erosion by holding soil together with their roots, this helps keep the nutrient rich topsoil in place which gives plants something to grow and flourish in, this also helps reduce flooding. They protect agriculture by modifying local climate extremes and ensuring water supplies. They help prevent pollution by acting like natural sponges and air filters; absorbing storm water that normally would end up in our rivers and streams.
Trees sequester carbon and absorb other airborne pollutants. They even have the ability to clean contaminated soil and ground water. One mature tree releases enough oxygen to support two people.
The leaves of trees absorb light energy, reducing reflected heat. When trees absorb water through their root system, they release moisture through leaf surfaces by a process called transpiration. This cools the air and can reduce the surrounding temperature by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit and the temperature directly under the tree by as much as 25 degrees Fahrenheit. Tree canopies blocks the sun’s rays during the day and holds in heat at night. Without them to protect us this will lead to more extreme temperatures swings that can be harmful to plants, animals and humans.
Trees help return water vapor back into the atmosphere. Without trees many former forest lands can quickly become barren deserts.
Trees and People
Studies have shown the relationship between trees and nature and mental and physical health. Patients in hospitals heal more quickly if they have a view of trees and nature. People are much more likely to go outside and walk through tree-lined communities, helping to provide a sense of community and well-being which in itself enhances people’s health. Simply viewing nature, or urban greenery decreases stress levels and enables people to cope better with day-to-day hardships.
Trees are Economical
Trees, especially mature ones, increase real estate values. They muffle urban noise and during the cold season; act as windbreaks; saving on heating costs. During the hot summer months their shade helps cool a house thus saving on air conditioning costs.
Trees are good for business
Trees not only improves the ability of residential neighborhoods to build community, they also contribute positively to business districts. Studies have shown that shoppers prefer to spend more time in canopied business districts and perceive merchants in those districts more positively than merchants in districts with fewer trees. This ultimately results in wider community networks encompassing not just where we live, but also where we work, shop, and play.
I think I’ve presented a good case for trees. Obviously we need them and they need us . How can we help our friends the trees?
How to help trees
Deforestation is such an immense problem. It is easy to feel helpless. Where do we start?
What follows are some simple ways your average person like you and I can do:
If you have the room on your property plant a tree or two…or more. If you must cut one down, replace it with another in a different spot.
If you don’t have the room or the opportunity to plant a tree, consider joining the Plant A Billion Trees Campaign and help protect The Brazilian rainforest which is home to 23 species of primates and 1,180 species of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and fish and 1,000 species of birds, almost 200 of which are not found anywhere else on Earth. Rainforests help regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate.
Help support The Nature Conservatory. This is a good cause which needs all the help it can get. Click on the link to read more about this fine organization.
Want to help closer to home? Support Local Land Trusts and Parks. There are many to choose from, just a quick Google search will uncover many.
Cut down on junk mail. It’s fairly simple: Register for the Mail Preference Service on the Direct Marketing Association website. For $1, your name and address will be removed from prospective mailing lists. This should end about 75% of your junk mail within about 90 days. ( Who likes junk mail anyway?)
Use Paperless Billing. It cuts down on paper and really simplifies your life, giving you more time to go out and enjoy nature.
Another way to save paper is to simply reuse scraps. I use old envelopes for my shopping lists. Also when printing something consider using both sides and while you are at it, ask yourself “Do I really need to print this?” Sometimes you sincerely don’t need to.
Libraries are the perfect place to go for free access to newspapers and magazines in print. E-readers like the Kindle and tablets like the iPad makes it easier than ever to read the digital editions of your favorite publications.
Use reusable shopping bags. It can be a hassle to remember but once you get used to it, it gets easy. Keep a few in your car or by the front door. Lead by example and show other shoppers you care about the environment. Perhaps you’ll prompt them to do the same.
While you are shopping, whether it be furniture, building materials or paper goods, look for FSC- and SFI-certified products. The FSC is the Forest Stewardship Council, which sets standards for third-party certification of private forests worldwide. The SFI is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, which focuses on wood from North American Forests. Another excellent way to shop is by using Rainforest Alliance Certified Products, for a list visit their website.
WE CAN DO THIS!
I realise what I’ve said here is simplistic and the problem goes so much further than any one person or any one nation for that matter. I could cover my property in trees and never use a single piece of paper again. Everyone reading this could do the same, but the problem would still be there. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this; to help keep a dialogue going because we as a society need to have this discussion. We need to make saving our forests and saving our planet a priority. Our governments could do so much more. Socially, we can do more. We are a constantly evolving people and what was acceptable once doesn’t mean it has to be acceptable in the future.
Many believe that growing our economies is more important than growing trees. These two important causes do not need to be mutually exclusive. We the people are a force to be reckoned with.
Write a blog post; better yet, write your local government official, write the president, any president… tell them we need to stop the abuse of our planet, if not for our sake, for the sake of our children and our children’s children who will inherit the mess from us. Think the environment is going to hell now? This is nothing compared to the nightmare that future generations may inherit if we don’t act.
I don’t mean to sound negative because I am hopeful. We have made it this far in the evolutionary ladder. This is another stepping stone to our ultimate destiny, whatever that will be.
We in the first world can lead the way, together with the rest of the world we can fix this. The time of the United States’ domination is over. We have set the standard for the rest of the world and it’s not fair to blame other less fortunate countries from trying to get a piece of what we have. Instead of condemning and punishing them, we need to help them. We need to work together on this. This planet belongs to us all and so does the problem.
We can do it!
“Trees are poems the earth writes upon the sky, We fell them down and turn them into paper, that we may record our emptiness.”
It all started with an idea. A grandiose crazy idea, some of which I am about to tell you, most of it I must keep to myself for now but suffice to say it will be my first big move into the fast paced grown-up world of freelance writing.
So I got this idea; a flash of brilliance that almost blinded my cat Mario. I was so excited by this that I started to jump up and down and instantly without thinking, I plunged my dainty hand straight into a bag of Doritos and started to consume it’s overly cheesy contents. I am a mom and I preach ad nauseam against this sort of activity but there I was munching away; my eyes ablaze waiting for MM to come through the door and then suddenly: there he was, and there I was, and then I just blurted it out: “I want you to be my manager.” I managed to stammer, eyes wide, mouth full of chips. “You’d do what you’re doing now except that you could call yourself my manager…of course, I couldn’t pay you” I added sheepishly.
As you may have guessed; he jumped at the chance! So there we were jumping up and down like lunatics in the kitchen. By then Mario, my famous cat, had darted out of the room, but we didn’t care. We were hugging and I was getting neon cheesy dust on his back and I didn’t care and he didn’t know, but that’s OK–I do all the laundry. It was an amazing moment for both of us…
… It is also amazing how a person can pump themselves up with a basically unearned and certainly at this moment in time, worthless highfalutin title. Just like that. It is at these moments that I am proud to be an American!
And that reminds me…did you know that Americans are the most narcissistic people in the world? Well…I bet you knew that but did you know that I am NOT one of these narcissistic Americans? HA! I bet you didn’t know THAT! Yes, it’s true. I was a bit curious about the subject so I started reading a book on narcissism; its fascinating stuff. The book contains a short test which I took, and to my surprise and embarrassment; I scored pretty low…so low that I think I may suffer from low self-esteem with a shot of delusional over-thinking and obvious long-windedness. Apparently just thinking I may be narcissistic may disqualify me. Well I guess I still have some work to do….
…but now I have a manager and a goal…it’s nothing to choke on your Dorito over, but it’s a start.
Wishing you a fantastic day full of big dreams and junky neon cheese!
“Look at me! Look at me! Look at me NOW! It is fun to have fun But you have to know how.”
~Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
The art of ridiculousness?! Yes, it is an art, and I try to practice it daily. What is life if one cannot have a little fun? I didn’t always used to be this way. I used to take myself much too seriously but I learned that it made me too old for my time. I was too worried about what others thought about me. As I age I’m realizing that for the most part most people are too self-absorbed to notice what anyone else is doing anyway.
At some point in our lives we are expected to stop the art of play. It is something we spent our whole childhoods perfecting. We are to put away childish things and join the adult world that takes everything so seriously. Whimsy and original thinking is, at best, frowned upon. It is as if on one fateful day, we look around and notice society is looking back with the look of distaste and expectant urgency “Now you’re one of us,” it says,and our magical world is pushed into the back of a dark closet; never again to see the light of day. People tend to think responsibility and whimsy cannot coexist, and work and fun are total opposites. I beg to differ.
There is much fun to be had in this world. One needs an open mind and a mirthful heart to find it; having fun is healthy. Numerous studies have proven the health benefits of fun and laughter.
I think the rebel in us pushes back sometimes, at the wrong time and, in the wrong way. We spend time, precious time, looking for that we have lost. The child inside of you is alive. Youth has not abandoned you: you have abandoned it. It is then…we not only grow up…we grow old.
Don’t grow old; embrace your inner child. I’ve met old nine-year olds and young ninety year olds…it’s all in the attitude. Don’t give up on that eternal playmate–he or she has not given up on you!
“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch. That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.” ~Fred Rogers
P E A C E I S P O S S I B L E
It may be idealistic
Perhaps a bit simplistic
To hope for what may seem
And just plain unrealistic
But I can see
The need is intrinsic
We are born altruistic
Because the world at peace
If we can cease being pessimistic
And believe Peace can be a Reality
That is the first step…
And this is my first post in Bloggers for Peace. Kozo at Everyday Guru’s has started this wonderful online movement for everyone that wants to join and blog for peace.
The details are here. I believe this is a truly worthy cause and very doable. Please use your blogging talents and influence and spread the word!
“Let my thoughts come to you, when I am gone, like the afterglow of sunset at the margin of starry silence.”
The first time I read the words of this great poet I knew I had found a kindred spirit. Never before or since have I identified so much with another person’s words. The fact that this man was born and passed many years before me and came from a completely different and unknown culture from me mattered not.
His words show a deep and profound connection to nature and spirituality: a connection that I have always instinctively felt for as long as I can remember. My upbringing as a lapsed Catholic couldn’t be further from this, but it is this very sentiment I have felt most deeply.
Tagore seemed to have an understanding of the world and a profound love for the smallest of the small lives mixed with a delightful childlike whimsy that has intrigued me. In my ignorance I thought I was the only one who felt that way and now that I know he lived I don’t feel so alone in my feelings.
As a typical American in that regard, I have not been exposed to or do I know much of other cultures, especially non-Christian ones. I consider this a deficit and I have recently been dipping my toe into the deep waters of the beautiful art and literature of wonderful India. I have been drawn to what I consider a wildly exotic and ancient culture that impresses me greatly.
Rabindranath Tagore in my opinion is the perfect first teacher. I have discovered his works not very long ago and I can’t seem to get enough. What follows are some of my favorite quotes by this amazing poet and fascinating individual.
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”
“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”
“Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark.”
“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
“By plucking her petals you do not gather the beauty of the flower.”
“Let your life lightly dance on the edges of time like dew on the tip of a leaf.”
“The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.”
“Perhaps the crescent moon smiles in doubt at being told that it is a fragment awaiting perfection.”
“Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.”
♦ ALL QUOTES BY RABINDRANATH TAGORE ♦
Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913 “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West.”