The Earth is an invitation to all of us. It invites us to participate and care and learn, and we become better people by engaging with the world around us. So much of what we read and hear in the news is dire and overwhelming, but we can accept these truths and then resolve ourselves to be responsible people on our planet.
We can make small, easy, smart, efficient, and cost-effective decisions about our water consumption and energy usage. For instance, years ago I told a friend that I hang out our laundry on a clothesline to dry whenever I can. With bemusement, she said, “Where do you find the time to do that?” and her incredulity always stayed with me because I had never really paid attention to the time difference between using a clothesline and a dryer. Her question made me aware of and grateful for the time I spend outdoors in the sunshine and breeze with a simple solution that works for our family and our lifestyle. This small example gives me hope that there are infinite tweaks and changes that we can make throughout our days that might not take much of our time and effort but that nonetheless can have a huge impact on how we treat and think about the Earth. By being mindful, conscientious, and informed, we can see our power and feel our responsibility to care for the Earth.
I like the everyday decisions that we can make, like hanging out clothes to dry, taking shorter showers, using air conditioning and heat as little as possible, recycling, reusing, reducing, and being informed about the food we buy and cook. When we learn about our local climate and ecosystems, we can plan and water our gardens and yards sensibly. One of my current goals is to start carrying trash bags when I’m walking and hiking so I can pick up litter. More importantly, though, the Carry the EARTH project really inspired me think more deeply about the Earth and nature that surround us all the time. We can strive to see the world with wonder and appreciation, respect and curiosity. Once again it seems to me that time is an important element. When we interrupt the hectic pace of our lives and pause to examine a rock, listen to a bird, observe a lizard, feel the bark on a tree trunk, or experience a gust of wind on our faces, we can feel palpable connections: with the present moment, with the Earth, with our true selves, and with other people.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, our family spent a few days in Idyllwild and the San Jacinto Mountains, and a huge reason for this choice of destination is that we really value outdoor time and exploration of new spaces. Huge areas had been burned and devastated by the Cranston Fire in July and August 2018, and as we drove through these areas we were all silent and stricken by the loss. Our somberness seemed to stay with us, possibly enhancing our enjoyment and appreciation of the pine forests, rocky monoliths, small towns, and autumn colors we ultimately reached.
We headed out in the morning to do a hike, and our oldest son brought along our camera so he could take pictures for his photography class project. I have always enjoyed taking pictures, ever since I myself took a photography class in high school, and seeing the camera around his neck and in his hands was a joyful experience. My husband and I itched to give him instructions or advice, but more than anything, we were all seeing the trees, boulders, light, clouds, shadows, and small details with new eyes. We took the time to pay attention, look for beauty, and seek out fascinating scenes, and it was there, everywhere, all the time. I’m including a few of my son’s pictures for your enjoyment, too.
In closing, I’ll come back to my first thought of the invitation from the Earth. Everything we do can make a difference, and we can always do more. We can take time, reflect on our lives, and consider what we are capable of doing to combat climate change and to preserve our natural resources. We can marvel at the common and transcendent beauty around us. We can decide every day how, when, where, and why we will accept the invitation.