Our post-election hike was a much-needed retreat from the election. As I breathed in the fresh air and made eye contact with fellow hikers I felt life flow back into my body. I realized that my anger could be used as a catalyst to make some real changes in my life and my family’s life. For one, Joe and I made a resolution to do more to protect the environment so that our kids, and for that matter, so that kids all over the country will continue to have access to nature, fresh drinking water, outdoor programming and active lifestyles. PROTECT THE EARTH! AND our kids access to nature!
In my experience, the outdoors is a safe space that doesn’t intend, like human constructed institutions, to separate people based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or creed (although I’d appreciate if certain counties didn’t charge a fee! How is that equitable!).
The outdoors is naturally diverse – on purpose. Imagine that! Aspen groves mix with pine trees and cypresses, shrubs, soil, water and rocks coexist to create a beauty that can’t be denied. The outdoors is the nation’s great unifier – where people acknowledge one another in solidarity with nature. I don’t think twice before saying “nice day today” to a fellow hiker. I do think twice before saying “hello” to a stranger in a grocery store.
My point is that we all breath the same air and when it’s fresh air perhaps we think more clearly, perhaps our minds are temporarily freed from the confines of negative news broadcasts. Maybe, because we are out there in nature, amongst the mountains and the sea we realize how small we are and so our egos are smaller too.
Oh, the places he’ll go!
Being outdoors has a way of reorienting me to what’s really important and what is truly false. To differentiate between the ego and the heart is tough. That is why I get outside and as far into nature as possible when I’m struggling with something. Because it is through the connection with nature that I find my voice. My voice. And I finally understand that I am the only one that needs to hear it. Make space for yourself to hear the whispers of your soul. The desire to be right and righteous – that’s my ego. The truth is I care deeply about people and specifically about racism, sexism, and homophobia. I am passionate about those social issues. I also don’t need to add to the boiling pot of opinions. My time and voice are better spent in action by joining and volunteering with social justice organizations, by voting with my money, by investing in my children and their education, by investing in our neighborhood school. It’s time to stop running away and start running towards social change. When it all falls down and the ceiling feels like it is going to squish me with its weight I take a deep breath and step-by-step I recommit (it’s a constant decision to do so) to my choice to walk the walk of justice for all. I may not ever see the promised land, but I’ll be on my way the rest of my life. I can’t think of a better example to set for my kids.