Sustainability

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

― Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

How does my relationship to the planet resemble my relationship to my body?

Once upon a time, I hated my body. I hated it and treated it like trash. I thought it would last forever. I didn’t understand it could break. I didn’t understand that starvation and exercise would slow my heart rate and weaken my bones. I burned through my stamina, which I neglected to replenish. My life was not sustainable.

My body is a temple. I must treat it as such. In recovery, I do; I do treat it as such. Sustainability has become a value. But sustainability does not stop with my body. On the contrary, that is where it begins.

Our bodies are micro-temples; our planet is the macro. Earth is the macro, umbrella temple that shelters us all. Thus, to truly live according to my values, I must commit to a practice of eco-sustainability.

I’m not perfect, but I do my best. I recycle as often as I can, I drink out of reusable mugs, and I carry reusable utensils in my backpack. I have gone so far as to “borrow” cups and silverware from dining establishments. That said, I do so with integrity. Take, for instance, the following letter:

August 5, 2019, Fair Grinds Coffeehouse, New Orleans:

To Scott the Barista, or the next person to sit at this table:

I ordered an iced coffee for here because I am environmentally conscious – truly, deeply environmentally conscious. I normally bring my own thermos or mug, but I anticipated finishing my coffee here because I arrived earlier than usual. I have not done so, though, and it is time for me to leave for therapy.

I am taking the glass with me so nothing goes to waste – coffee and plastic included – but I live in the neighborhood dan I promise that after my appointment, I will return and bring it back. I may even bring you more customers; my cousins are in town, and today I am tasked with entertaining them.

To assure you of my credibility, I’ll have you know that I’ve donated several books to your lending library, including one this morning called The Witch of Blackbird Pond. I am in a process of purification – what in Sanskrit is called “saucha” – and I interpret that and brahmachrya as a practice of decluttering, letting go. 

Let’s be real, Scott – how important is it? When it comes to Planet Earth, how important is it that I borrow your glass mug? At least I am acknowledging it, and taking responsibility. I’ll balance my karma by returning the mug, and I’ll ultimately serve the greater good.

This is about the big picture: beyond this coffee shop, beyond this moment. In accepting and approving this message, Scott, you are helping me serve the environment. Together, we are doing our part.

There is a natural exchange of resources of this planet. I may be borrowing your glass now, but 3 weeks ago I brought my own glass to the Bean Gallery (a neighboring coffee shop) and accidentally left it in their dish return. I haven’t been back since.

I hope it’s being put to use. It doesn’t match the rest of their glass collection, which is full of duplicates, but all of their mugs are one of a kind. Perhaps, by leaving the glass, I made a subtle impact! A subtle shift in the norm.

You never know where your resources come from. You never know who came before. Everything has a story…it keeps us all connected. How funny to think of our items’ lives. How fun. 

Scott, in the time it has taken me to write this letter, I have finished my iced beverage. Thus, the point is moot – but the intention still matters. I tend to be long-winded, and what starts as a 3-sentence paragraph can quickly span several pages.

Thank you for the opportunity to write and begin this dialogue. Let it begin with us, and the whole planet will benefit. (In this case, “it” refers to sustainability.) Now to the dish bin I go.

Bella

I never delivered that letter to Scott. As you can see, it became irrelevant. That said, writing it led to great insight. It revealed a connection between my recovery and my social responsibilities.

We’ve all heard the saying, “it starts in the home.” This is often applied to behavior of children in school. In this case, my body is my home, and the planet is my school. How I treat my body reflects itself in how I treat my environment.

There’s another saying I like, which I learned in regards to acting: “you play like you practice.” You can’t make a small choice in rehearsal and make a bold choice in tech. It works for sports, too. How I treat my body is practice for how I treat the planet.

When I am kind to my body—when I brush and floss my teeth, when I rub on essential oils, when I feed it what it needs—I am much more likely to be kind to the planet. When I pause to meditate in the morning, I am more likely to pause and wash my reusable utensils before I leave the house. 

If I rush out of bed in the morning and do the bare minimum for my body—if I skip flossing, if I skip my meditation—I am much more likely to grab a single-use coffee cup and forgo rinsing it to recycle. Seldom do I practice one without the other. 

In treatment, I was asked to look at how my relationship with food resembles my relationship with people. I know now that all of my relationships mirror each other—including my relationships to my body and the environment.

If I am truly to live according to my values, I must practice my principles in all my affairs—especially my relationship to the planet. The planet is our source of life. If I don’t treat it well, I am a hypocrite. My recovery is half-baked. And that will simply not do [For more on that, click here].

In closing, I’d like to remind you that these thoughts and opinions are my own, and not meant to be forced upon anyone. They’ve been filtered through my own experience. 

Keep tuning in, keep sharing, keep coming back – but most importantly, keep being you. That’s all that matters. 

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