The importance of enjoying the thing you’re fighting for

A disciple once asked his Zen Master, “Master, why isn’t everything perfect?” to which the master replied, “It is.”

Obviously I don’t completely buy that, as I am not a Zen Master, and I have a blog about how we need to change things (and I don’t generally want to change perfect things).

There is a lesson in this for those of us who fear the worst, when it comes to climate change: We have to remember why we’re doing what we’re doing.

I posted earlier about one of the many reasons I care about this issue, but of course, there’s more to it than iguanas, awesome as they are. There is also the fact that I just generally enjoy nature. My decision to return to New England from the Midwest was not an easy one, and it was made over a couple very painful days, but I had grown up in these forests, and spent much of my youth hiking, tracking, and canoeing around the American Northeast, and that connection came alive when I came back here.

I like being outside. I love the chaotic beauty of a thunderstorm, and the chattering of forest streams. I love the way fish seem to be suspended in nothingness in the cold, clear, fall ponds. I like stepping outside to get the mail and hearing a raven croaking in the woods nearby. I love these woods, and they are in danger.

Of course, I can’t pinpoint the risk – it’s entirely possible that rainfall will increase, and the woods will stick around just fine, although the repeated droughts have had me wondering when it will be our turn for a state-wide forest fire, but one thing will go away, and probably fairly soon – I remember a time in high school where I tracked a mink for three or four hours through snow that was sometimes up to my waist (it wasn’t deep by my house so I left my snowshoes behind). In that time, I got to see a spot where it had slid on its belly for about 40 feet down a hill, stopped to untangle itself from a bush that it couldn’t avoid, and slid down another 29 feet. It then ran up to a gully, and slid down its side, then ran up the other side, and slid down it – back and forth, maybe 6 or 7 times before it carried on.

There’s nothing quite like seeing evidence of an animal goofing off because it can, or like having an image of a furry brown rope with legs zig-zagging up and down a hill like that. There are a myriad OTHER things I enjoy about being outside, but the point is this:

This is a tough fight. We’re trying to convince people of things that seem like they should be obvious. We’re trying to change how we live to that we can not only continue to live, but so that we can keep our modern conveniences (I LIKE my computer…). We’re finding ourselves locked in a war of words against powerful people without conscience who will gladly fund anyone willing to sew doubt among those willing to hear it, and in the heat of our arguments it is easy to lose track of the reasons why we’re fighting. It’s not because we’re right and they’re wrong (though we are and they are), and it’s not because polluters are bad, or any of that. It’s because we’ve got something worth holding on to. We’ve got this great planet that we evolved in, and all the wonders that come with this nice, comfortable climate. If we’re lucky enough to live in the north, we have winters, decorated with glistening crystal and shining whiteness. If we life in the tropics, we’re surrounded by all the colors and wonders created by life racing on unimpeded by cold. We walk through wonders every day, whether in city or country (I know a guy who saw a peregrine falcon take a pigeon in Harvard Square), that are all due to the climate that is now changing.

It’s important not to sit this one out, but it is also important to enjoy what you’re trying to protect. Think about it: why do you care. What in this world is worth protecting? Are you worried about your child’s future? Spend more time with the kid (I probably don’t have to tell you that one). Do you love walking your dog? Try to do it more often, and with more enjoyment. Do you like sunbathing? Get out in the sun. Do you like skiing, or snowboarding? Hit the slopes.

Whatever you LIKE about this climate – whatever it is that motivates you, that gives you enjoyment, make sure to DO it. There’s plenty to be unhappy about, so take time to recharge, and remember what we’re trying to hold on to.

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One response to “The importance of enjoying the thing you’re fighting for

  1. I really like this post. Thanks!

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