Most of us get too much of our food from unhealthy sources. Almost every one of us wants the animals we eat to be cared for better. Most of us are rushed and harried. Our lives are too busy to be as rewarding as life feels like it should be. And it’s true. In North America we’ve gone downhill in the total quality-of-life scale since about the very early 1950’s. We need two incomes now to care for fewer kids because each kid and both parents have so darned much stuff. Just their car alone has about 14,000 parts in it. We’re busy people and so we consume a lot. A lot of what? A lot of everything.
So what’s this mean? It means our gross consumerism is doing two things: it’s disrupting the social structures that our relationships were formerly based on, and it’s eating up the world and spitting out toxic garbage. What’s toxic mean? It means it’ll kill the planet. And what do we want all that stuff for anyway? We just lose it all when we die. By now, 80% of 40 year olds and older will be working very hard to deal with whatever unexpected financial event happened in their life. Maybe they got cancer and were only getting a percentage of their wage on disability, maybe they had an expensive divorce or got defrauded or maybe an illness lead to an early retirement. Bottom line, people have never worked harder to be more stressed and the planet itself is in a declining state.
These two things are linked. We need to consume because our lives are hollow because our relations are shallow and short and fickle and thin. Not as long ago as it seems, people lived in groups. They slept in groups, hunted in groups, gathered in groups. And now we invent houses and encase ourselves. We talk to each other through phones even though we’re at the same restaurant table. We’ve become unnatural. And we have to get back to being more natural or we’re all gonna die.
If the Earth were the size of a basketball, the atmosphere is about as thick as two coats of paint and we have been pumping crap into it for 150 years. I’m a scuba diver and in my short lifetime I have witnessed the degradation of dive sites I had previously visited. I have seen the fish disappear and the shorelines change. We water golf courses and flower pots outside hotels, but if you’re travelling around the world a lot and you’re watching for it, you’ll notice that a lot of things are dying.
We’re too interested in money and not interested enough in life. Our own or the planet’s. I don’t want you to do this because I’m some green activist because I’m not. I’m a guy who loves everyone around him and that’s the way of living that this blog exists to impart. It just so happens that a byproduct of that objective is that you fall in love with the whole world around you.
I’m not saying it’s easy or without its huge challenges, but seriously try to reconsider the world and your life at the same time. Instead of going out to a movie where you all stare in the same direction in the dark and don’t talk, try staying in, facing each other at a small table, and play a board game and talk. You’ll be surprised at how therapeutic it is. And it’ll leave a tiny footprint on the planet. People playing Scrabble or Chess or Monopoly tend not to do a lot of damage to the Earth.
You want your life to feel better. I’m not kidding. This is how. Stop caring about yourself and your happiness and start caring about other people’s welfare. The sharing of compassion is at the heart of the sort of love we’re all seeking. It’s that wonderful warm feeling where you don’t feel like you need to be anywhere except where you are. You are Be-ing.
Pay more attention. Live more consciously. Choose connection. Choose friendship and camaraderie. Eat healthier and be easier on the planet simultaneously and both you and it will get stronger and healthier. But it must be intentional. You must really want to be this person who lives this way. It’ll be easy though. Because once you start, and once you get past the initial awkward stage that goes with any new thing, you’re left with one of life’s better experiences and that will motivate you to want to recreate them. And the only way to do that is to care. To actively care, with the accent on the active.
We can’t think the world into being better. Too many of you are unhappy and too many of you aren’t doing anything concrete to help anyone in a significant way. Choose an activity you currently derive little benefit from, and instead of doing that, put consciously compassionate living in its place. We’ll all be better off. The world could use your love. You’re awesome.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.