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You have a favorite piece of clothing.

One day, you notice that a button is loose and some of the fabric’s weave has unraveled, leaving some threads dangling.

If you really like this piece of clothing, you’ll probably try to fix these imperfections so they don’t get worse.

If however, you don’t care for it enough to expend the energy to fix it, you might tell yourself that it can be replaced—or that you can find something similar, or better. If you lived in Cuba or the DRC, replacing it wouldn’t actually be an option.

Another possibility is to do nothing. Just let it unravel, missing buttons and all, until it eventually becomes unwearable. Maybe use the remaining fabric for an art project.

Relative to your lifestyle, would you do what’s sensible? Or are you more inclined to do what’s easy?

What if this piece of clothing was a space suit or something you actually couldn’t survive without in a region like say, the Arctic tundra?

Keep Asking Lots of Questions

Does the average first-world person prefer to replace a worn garment with something new? Are there too few seamstresses and tailors in the western world? Why do people who can sew and repair garments primarily work for in third-world sweatshops or for the wealthy? Why is this skill-set so absent and relatively undervalued in America? There was a time—in Europe, in my parent’s generation—where sewing was on par with driving as a valuable skill.

Why does an internet search for “world’s poorest island communities” reveal absolutely nothing? Why does a search for “world’s poorest islands” reveal only a scant handful of bloggers, some of whom comment on the ‘obscene disparity’ between say, Haiti, and the tourists who pay to be disgorged there from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship that sits quietly in the distance awaiting their suntanned return for unlimited food and booze?

Haitian disparity-on-the-beach

For that matter, why is there unlimited access to booze on a finite planet while 783 million people don’t have access to clean water? Are we not aware enough that the present ways of our culture are unsustainable?

 

 

Where am I going with all this, you may wonder…

Those of you who understand the art of the metaphor and the unmistakable theme of my work, know all too well where I am taking you.

The Biosphere (aka., Life on Earth)

Despite our (collective) limited understanding of what creates a healthy, sustainable world, we are nevertheless aware that all of life depends on the health and well-being of our planet.

Helen_Christiansonsaving ecosystems

We’re talking about an organic living system. The planet is an organic living system that our singular species (7 billion of us) share with 8.7 million OTHER species.

What we know with surprising certainty is that it is the web of life as a whole that has made it possible for our species to exist. Like your favorite piece of clothing.

As David Suzuki states, “To tear at the web in such a massive way with so little regard for our own future is a kind of collective insanity that is suicidal.”

Come on now, why would you tear up your favorite piece of clothing?

 

A Fertile Future

A fertile future rests on three things:

  1. Organic, thriving uncompromised ecosystems;
  2. Wise, compassionate stewardship of said ecosystems;
  3. The re-creation of human systems that unequivocally reveal the long-term value of the first two.

You can quote me on this.

Yes, your children are equally precious. So are mine. What kind of world do we want to see them grow up in? Being a parent opens our hearts to ongoing, unconditional love. What would it take for the planet that supports us unconditionally to experience that love too?

If this single statement of what I believe a fertile future rests upon contributed to the foundation of entirely new human systems and thus, ways of thinking that were based upon sustainable ethics, we would be able to turn things around. Maybe not in my lifetime, but maybe in our children’s lifetime.

Please don’t wait for another spark of inspiration. Join a group that’s actually doing something to make the planet healthier.

Share your and others’ ideas far and wide.  Talk with me on this blog.

Move out of your comfort zone and speak for that which does not have a human voice but needs yours to survive.

Every act and expression of thought has the power to change things.

Happy family

evening people at beach dinner

Last night, while my partner and I were preparing food for a group of friends, the subject turned to things that we would rather not know about—like how many animals were euthanized at the local shelter this past year; the huge sadness of discovering that the already fragmented rainforest ecosystems are still being destroyed at the rate of 60.7 hectares (150 acres) a minute, or why my interest-bearing checking account yielded only 17 cents interest at year-end.

Although I did find out about the 17 cents (the interest rate was exceedingly low), the real subject was that we were both aware of topics we’d rather not get into. Why? Because basically it would bring down our mood. And it was Friday night…

What I noticed was a theme emerging.

What if, I wondered, instead of dropping the subject, we allowed ourselves to experience the pain that sat just behind the undesirable topic? The pain of injustice…of making a colossal mistake…of cruelty…or even simply the pain of aging. It was at that moment that I reacquainted myself with the frailty of life–something I’m not particularly keen to hang out with as my tendency is often to bring sallow subjects to a higher vibe and then hang out there. Yet…

There was some learning to be had there…I could feel it coming in…like a cloud drifting closer.

The Willingness to Look Into and Beyond

That a single hit of emotional pain can trigger resistance, avoidance, fear, self-criticism or just plain negativity—reminded me that what lies behind fear is a valueoften more than one—that re-connects us to our wholeness.

In that sense, what first strikes us as some form of pain (emotional or otherwise) reveals something in need of healing…of care rather than avoidance…of action rather than inaction… In fact quite often, the greater the pain, the deeper the passion. That 17 cents pales in comparison to an ecosystem extinction, but it’s nevertheless an indicator of something not right. It’s really just a question of magnitude.

On what order of magnitude is the issue really?

Mary Oliver-one wild and precious life quote

Solid As Air

The distance we put between ourselves and whatever we don’t like is actually the activity of creating space. And the ability to create space is a skill that us westernized, 21st century humans have nearly lost the ability to do. I’m not talking about resistance–that’s a pushing back of energy. I’m talking about how to step back and view a situation with objectivity, a cool head and a warm heart. This requires the ability to create space, something I’ve referred to in previous blogs as ‘creating pockets of peace.’ Inherent in the ability to create space is room for a broader perspective, new ideas and a regenerative sense of well-being.

Isn’t that what we all really want deep down?

Think about that scene in The Abyss where a sense of wonder and curiosity for connection brought the crew to make an amazing and unexpected connection with a higher intelligence manifesting as autonomous ocean water. A sense of wonder, openness and curiosity is what creates the space for new ideas to emerge. To ground oneself with space is also the ultimate personal freedom. No one can take that ability away from you.

Without mental or physical space, there is no room for growth.

new-zealand-fern koru

A Regenerative Renaissance

Creating space has both a regenerative and a productive purpose. Changing what you’re doing and the context you’re doing it in activates different areas of your brain. It comes from eliminating stuff in your life that isn’t actually that important to you. In the process, you re-acquaint yourself with the essence of who you are.

The biodiversity of ecosystems that still exist are infinitely precious, particularly since they have taken over two billion years to manifest in just the right way to support life. Think about who would do well if we were to become dependent on government and big business for our clean air, clean water and healthy food. Not you or me. And certainly not any living creatures who are perceived as ‘less than’ by humans.

Imagine a holistic scale, where something given a ‘1’ contributes to creating the greatest imbalance and fragmentation of life. At the other end, a ’10’ indicates something that contributes to creating the greatest balance and wholeness for all living things.

Where does your idea land?

New ideas, set against the background of early 21st century technology, should be explored in terms of their contribution to creating greater wholeness for all living things. From a common-sense view and one of personal passion–this is ultimately a win-win perspective. It’s the widest lens we can optimize, so nothing is left outside of this equation.

Use your free time to live out your passion, no matter how small the seed seems right now. Allow it the space to germinate and grow.

Choose to look at whatever you have resistance or fear about. Just behind it will be one or more values you cherish and probably yearn to re-connect with. Let discomfort become the ally that it truly is.

Sometimes it’s hard work, true. But consider why you might otherwise feel ‘too busy’ in such moments. Feeling ‘too busy’ is a clear indicator that you’ve run out of space, and are therefore making decisions from a place of scarcity. You don’t deserve that. And neither do your kids.

Go ahead, release what doesn’t serve your greatest good and watch what happens.

Yes, you can create miracles. Just do it.

how-precious-life-is-quotes-2

 

As February emerges in the South Pacific right now, it seems like a good time to thank January for its many  gifts–particularly for the rain here in California.

Sharing Nature with kids-Devon-England 001

Ever since completing a 3-year Waldorf teacher training program to practice the art of integrative teaching, it has become a personal practice of mine to be particularly conscious about the daily rhythms and energies preceding Epiphany (January 6).

 

I experience a sense of timelessness, where my awareness flows fluidly with the natural shifts of light and dark. There is a more heightened awareness of the present moment, coupled with an expanded effortlessness to remain fully present. In this state of awareness, Life’s paradoxes reveal hidden purpose and meaning. A brilliant constellation of ideas–as few as two or three and as many as dozens I’ve attempted to document–that had previously not arisen in my mind in such an interconnected way.

 

What surprised me was the unexpected paradoxical nature of the ideas that came into view, which are shared verbatim below. If a big part of you revels in collaboration and togetherness, realize that the flipside is to revel in–and actually yearn to–experience quality alone time with yourself. It’s vital for self-balancing. So, here’s what came in:

yin yang earth“It is your lack of commonality that will free you. It is your commonality that binds you. It is your freedom of choice to connect or not–or to be bound or not.”

In other words, “the variables that make each of us utterly unique are also what frees us. You could also say that freedom is a vast commonality, depending on how you view it.”

 

Another way to look at this is that the world could be your oyster…or it could be your jail cell…depending on the broadness of your perspective.

12-12-12 image Vasumi

It was sort of thrilling to realize for the first time a new dimension to my career that hadn’t occurred to me of before: the idea that connecting cultural / linguistic anthropology with sovereign food system restoration of island communities would be an absolutely banging way to immerse my career into the realms I love most. Naturally, this is my own unique spin on life based on what truly rocks my world. Highly recommended…

 

Prior to the gnarly communication discord of this most recent week (17-24 January), the altitude of awareness has been at an all-time high—available for the reaching to anyone w ho reaches for what really matters.

 

cosmos_from_earth

Our cosmos as seen from earth

Third in a series, this article may sound like a spin on the previous article: The Art of Allowing Space into Everyday Life. Savvy readers however, will catch the distinction right away–this article penetrates the taboo-trending topic of self-discipline.

nothing Binds u

Self-discipline is actually a form of freedom. Not just freedom from, but freedom to live into one’s own unique pursuit of authentic happiness. It sits quietly at the core of ANY relationship–beginning with the most basic one: the relationship we have with ourselves.

Our relationship to ourselves—and with the natural world around us—has everything to do with keeping ourselves whole.

Every millimeter and area of the natural world is an ecosystem. Every ecosystem lives in balance with what it needs to stay whole—doing so continually activates self-organizing principles that drive the living systems of our planet and solar system.

So, shifting gears from macrocosm to microcosm: when we need balance in our lives, where do we go?

How do we change our perspective in a relatively short period of time? How do we re-balance from a busy day or otherwise stressful situation?

It requires a form of self-discipline that could initially be described as a yearning, a desire for something different…an urge to ‘bust out’, get creative or just escape…it’s an undeniable need. It’s really about the self-discipline of wholeness, or holistic awareness.

hand-touch-surface

In this world of designed fragmentation, ignorance of self-discipline has profoundly disturbing consequences. Just look around the world at anything that seems out of control, terribly unhealthy, insane or just plain ludicrous. Running through the body of that event, person or situation is—simply put—a lack of awareness.

Kick-start your own awareness.  Look at our planet via Google Earth or as Edgar Mitchell, founder of IONS, might have seen it from space.  Such a difference in perspective changes everything.

Image converted using ifftoany

Earth from space

Our interconnectedness with life is crystal clear. Denial isn’t an option. We are an integral part of the earth’s living ecosystem–and the quality of our lives depend on it.

Your own ability to unplug has everything to do with your ability to transform negative, life-draining energies into constructive, positive ones. The quickest route to unplugging is to immerse yourself in nature on a regular basis.

Want more experience doing this with others? Check out what other awesome people are doing and dive in!

treetop viewsoftrees

The non-schedule.

Where peace of mind trumps everything.

Where doing is replaced by being.

And where your state of being is preceded by a clear and empty mind.

Loving what we do in the world is so thoroughly integrous with living a fulfilling life, it cannot be overstated. There are so many ways to get to this state–and stay there most of the time.

Internet-noosphere

From an expansive perspective, you can begin to see your life as an experiment. An experiment in how to cultivate joy for yourself at every turn. This is not even remotely selfish…in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Your inner joy spills over into everything–and everyone.

As incredibly long as the universe has existed….(some 13.8 billion years by current estimates) life has been unfolding for aeons–billions of years before our species ever showed up. It is in fact our species–and quite possibly all life forms on earth–that are experiencing a planet-wide bump up in consciousness.  (So that we’re all on the same page, consciousness is defined here as a “pure sense of awareness.” It exists as a field of awareness that focuses down to a point by concentrating on a particular set of objects through the vehicle of physical form.)

It’s just that more and more of us are collectively awakening to the unfolding nature of life itself. Examples of the unfolding nature of the universe have existed since the Big Bang.

Yes, things are changing. They have been changing all along. We are spiralling upwards in consciousness on a planetary scale, only to discover that our collectively awakened consciousness is unfolding on a macro level.

And the more we attune our listening, the more we discover that Nature is Speaking.

For specific steps to the Art of Allowing Space into Daily Life, you’re warmly invited to explore this handy guide.

Boy-playing-violin-to-doves

Change is most definitely the flavor of the aeon.

Move and think with grace.

Feel your way into the noosphere.

Communicate from the heart…

Yes, that’s essentially what this amounts to.

No need to sit like a Yoga for years. No need to renounce the world, or read scriptures. Unless that is how you want to live your life.

The highest spiritual path is life itself. It’s not about your career, who you want to marry or whether you want to seek God. These are projected outcomes. They are manifestations.

Every manifest thing has a life cycle of newness, change and eventually decay. That new car, phone or piece of clothing you bought will eventually lose its appeal over time. You will eventually opt for something to replace it. Or not. This is simply the life cycle of something that exists in space-time as we know it.

In the end, you can throw out all the possible outcomes, because they are impermanent.

You actually only have one core, underlying decision in your life: “Do you want to be happy, or do you not want to be happy?”

It’s really that simple. Once you make THAT choice, your path through life becomes completely clear.

Mot people don’t dare give themselves that choice because they believe it’s out of their control. One might say, “Well of course I want to be happy, but my car just broke down.” In other words, they want to be happy, but not if their car breaks down. But that wasn’t the question.

The question was, put quite simply, “Do you want to be happy or not?”

If you keep it simple, you will see that life is really about your own inherent power of choice. It’s just that you have a deep-seated set of preferences that get in the way. Learn to use them as guidelines rather than “must-haves.”

This is not about whether happiness is under your control. It is. And, the conditions you create and then impose upon yourself actually limit your happiness.

Life-situation-vs-life-in-u

The stock may crash, a loved one may die, your car might break down in the rain, the kind of house you dream of living in may never become affordable. This all may happen between now and the end of your life. You simply aren’t going to be able to control things and keep them the way you want them without totally burning yourself out. Billions of things could happen that you haven’t even thought of yet.

The truth is, events don’t determine whether or not you’re going to be happy. They’re just events. You determine whether or not you’re going to be happy.

Essentially, your answer to the question of being happy must be unconditional. That alone may take a bit of work. But, what are the other options? What is most important?

Anything circumstantial can be done with joy and ease IF you allow yourself to experience that.

If you decide that you’re going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only become exponentially happy, you will actually become enlightened.

Unconditional happiness is the highest and simplest technique there is. This doesn’t mean that unpleasant events will never occur. It simply means that choosing inner happiness is where you choose to be with yourself no matter what is occurring around you.

Like a tree, you become an eternal witness to life and experience balance in return.

~ Part 1 of a series on Simply Living. Enjoy and discuss!

telling the truth

A year and a half into it’s life, I’ve finally had the pleasure of reading The Signature of All Things, written by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy

Courtesy of Yosemite Conservancy

This elegant tale reveals a riveting slice of life during the Age of Enlightenment, a time when humanity began looking at the natural world scientifically to better understand and explain life. Alma, the book’s main character, is an engagingly credible, intellectually ambitious 19th-century woman who has exactly the kind of mind—and patience—to appreciate the world of plants.

Her special passion is mosses: their primitive bodies, sturdy habits and peculiar reproductive modes. She loves the beauty they hold in reserve, unlike showier plants that attract other botanists. She finds previously unknown taxa just beyond her doorstep as dried mosses were once used for packing material. Rummaging through empty crates at local shipping docks turn up enough unfamiliar specimens to occupy her indefinitely. Over decades, Alma measures their growth in millimeters, and her days are happily consumed.

Dedicating her entire life to learning about the world through nature, Alma eventually discovers that only outside the protected domain of her family home can she glimpse vaster and more dynamic mechanics of creation. From unpredictable oceanic turbidity to living whirlpools of luminosity, to realizing the inner nature of life and what makes us complex humans do what we do…Alma’s world expands geographically.

Unfortunate misunderstandings that ensue following Alma’s first-ever-middle-age marriage to Ambrose—an extraordinarily candid and exquisitely gifted painter of orchids—later reveals a myriad of unseen connections within the context of love and life itself. In the back of my mind, I confess that I waited rather endlessly for Alma to have amazing sex. Ah, well….

helix nebula

More fascinating questions are raised that are still being explored today:

Is it one’s inner world that causes manifestation in the outer—the world we call reality?  Or is it the outer world that triggers curiosity, exploration and new ideas in the individual? Or is it that what seems new to the individual has simply existed all along, waiting to be discovered? If so, whatever the cause agent, it occurs in relationship to something else, no matter how seemingly insignificant that something else may be.  One could say that we live in a multiple-reality universe of infinite possible realities.

The Signature of All Things is a refreshing homage to the many natures of genius and the inevitable progress of ideas in a world that reveals itself to curious and patient minds.  Have you read this book? If so, let’s hear your constructive perspectives!

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