How Ecopsychology Can Empower You To Live In The Real World
We need nature more than ever before. You cannot live entirely in the abstract and thrive. Being online connects us, but abstract ideas created to help humanity sometimes hurt us when we become overly reliant upon them.
Reality gives us the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water that we need. And all these things are not just vital needs, they are actually YOU. The beauty and miracles of nature are here not just to create life and connect us in literal ways to every living soul on the planet, including wilderness forests and all creatures, but to allow you to know me and the rest of life in all of its fullness and wonder.
The onscreen world shoved into our faces each day reveals much conflict, hate and horror. Lately, we see invasion of privacy for profit and for political gain.
The abstract online ‘life’ promotes addiction, and a sense of inadequacy, as we all try to meet or exceed other players in our public portrayal of self. We also witness both environmental and cultural degradation.
But you are not your online presence. You are part of the living world.
The disconnect is happening because we have allowed some to have power who do not have a whole and abiding relationship with the natural world. It’s a serious, and lethal error, to think that power or wealth are of value in and of themselves.
Having a relationship is a reciprocal trust. Exploiting any living being, water or landscape without consciousness or conscience destroys that trust. Appreciation gives life value, if you don’t feel appreciation — or if you don’t receive it — your life loses meaning. This is why American values always lean toward equality and freedom. And we are at risk of losing these values when we begin to believe privilege and entitlement can be given without exercising these values.
It is we the people, not they, the government. To not have a say is to shirk from your own responsibility, and to think nothing you do makes a difference, leads to apathy and helplessness.
Those who think only about the economy forget it is created by us, for us. Those who believe in nationalism forget that we all are family. Those who are driven by money often forget we invented money as a convenience for sharing the abundance of Earth. Those who see only borders and walls forget we are on a spinning blue ball with only the temporary, receding and repeating lines we put on maps. Those who see fame and celebrity as their only goal lose the precious relationship that is with every other living being. In doing so, they often forget also, that we are dust and to dust we return. At times, we can be shining, spectacular dust, but do not forget with true humility, that our most brilliant flames are as brief as sparks.
Also, now more than ever before, people are falling back on the treacherous cliff-edge footing of otherism. Otherism is another word for scapegoating. To scapegoat, to blame others for problems not only creates a divide between our common humanity, it also demands that we give up power.
There is no reason to fear immigrants, for example, if there are actually flames, floods and mudslides lapping at your doorstep. Helping those suffering from climate change disasters opens your eyes and your heart. Taking daily steps mindfully, however small, to mitigate your carbon footprint empowers you. Blaming others simply abandons your best attributes, which come from belonging.
When you feel yourself to be a victim of others, and only a victim, you have relinquished power, not just your own power, but the full regenerative power and resilience that defines planets that perpetuate themselves. That is, you are missing the best part about creation, that it creates, and does so with amazing reliability.
You are related not just to every being that shares DNA upon this third rock, you are related to the stars as well. We value gold because as Robert Frost said: “Nothing gold can stay.” It is forged in distant collisions of neutron stars. The gold in your teeth, or wedding ring, cell phone, or tablet will change many more times in the next million years.
So even, gold, enduring as it is, is a reminder of the forces far beyond us that shape our world. The world itself, if you get outdoors, breathe it, eat it, smell it, hear it, you are reconnecting to the life that creates your life.
To grasp the meaning of your life, spend minimally just one night under the most resplendent and clear sky you can find.
There is nothing wrong with using technology to connect, but keep aware through your senses whether hugs and kisses are real or virtual. Be mindful that expressive language requires the whole body and all your senses. Remember that a real smile is not an emoji. Birds, butterflies and bees are busy making a livable planet. Trees and seas offer vistas worth experiencing.
We must get offline, at times, to truly remember we came from a living world, and should feel it, at least once, every single day. At night, when you finally succumb to the wisdom of rest, regeneration and dreams, direct your mind to natural scenes, not glaring screens.
Walt Whitman advised: “I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.” Modern technology, the binary languages that have come to dominate much of our head space and time, are also kinds of words that cannot “tell” as much as our whole immersion in our bodies and living, diverse environments can tell.
We are not yet robots, although our bionic bits are expanding day by day. We will never truly lose our senses, however, unless we willfully give them away.