thanks to changeeverything, i feel inspired to bring my environmental consciousness a little more up to date. i dug around in the environmental column i used to write for the the review, a small vancouver newspaper, from about 1988-1991 and found an article that seems just as fresh today as in april of 1990. (it may also be a bit of a response to robert’s comment a few days ago).
here we go:
at the peacewalk/earth day rally i bumped into a friend who works at the head of a high profile environmental group. when asked how she was doing, she gave me a big grin and said, “fast approaching burn-out, but fine, thanks. tomorrow morning i’m flying to toronto and it’s going to be meetings, meetings, meetings all week long. i wish i had some time off over there. but otherwise, sure, i’m fine.”
my response was meant to be a joke: “seems your organization is doing all this campaigning for the environment out there, but they don’t seem to care much for the old body.” on the bus ride home, half asleep after walking around all those hours, i remembered this little conversation, and my response didn’t seem like such a joke anymore.
here we are, everyone all worked up about the carmanah valley and salmon spawning grounds and ozone holes – i wonder, do we realize that our bodies and minds are our most immediate environment? do we treat ourselves with the care and respect we are called upon to feel for mama earth? and if we don’t, how are we supposed to appreciate good air, if, for example, we’re still munching away on donuts three times a week?
don’t get me wrong. i’m not trying to convert everyone to non-smokers and bean sprout munchers by tomorrow afternoon. my point is, the saying “do unto others as you would unto yourself” works both ways, and especially in environmental matters.
take work, for example. how many of us sedentary workers (which condition is an assault on our body-environment to begin with) have supportive, comfortable, adjustable chairs? poor ventilation in those horrible hermetically sealed buildings attacks our respiratory systems, exposes us to infection through viruses and bacteria that sometomes never completely leave the system, and seriously limits our oxygen intake.
sick building syndrome is not just a fancy term, it’s reality, and it gave me bronchitis, for one. poor or overdone lighting and constant white noise (the incessant humming and whirring of machines, fans, etc.) irritates our eyes and ears and wrecks our nerves.
on a personal level, we often do our best, too, to actively maltreat our bodies. we eat wrong, don’t exercise enough, crave overstimulation, and are completely starved off something called “rest”.
how on earth, yes, on earth, not in the car or behind the desk, are we supposed to be “kind and gentle” to trees and animals, the air, the water, if we treat ourselves like, er, dirt?
the curious thing is that this is absolutely nothing new. every doctor will be bored to tears when he or she reads this. of course we know we have to eat well, sleep enough, blah, blah.
the trick is to not only know it but actually do it. it’s one of those real simple acts that are so hard to follow through with.
i’ve been trying to substitute “anti-body” activities with “pro-body” ones. an alternative to watching a movie would be going for a dance or a steam bath. when i feel low and need some consolation, i try to have a bubble bath instead of stuffing my face with cookies. working in the garden seems to be at least as satisfying a weekend activity as sitting on the couch leafing through piles of magazines. and a short nap is as good an idea for relaxation as a cup of tea and a cigarette.
the goal is to reacquaint ourselves with our bodies, to make friends with them. it’s our bodies that make us part of the earth, and if we can learn to love and honour this environment, it’ll go a long way towards respecting and recovering the rest – animals, water, and all.
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