Saturday, November 22, 2014

Complicit by Oil

Christmas is coming. Freighters dot English Bay with increasing numbers, store windows light up and traffic is a nightmare. Our consumeristic blood bubbles over with sudden urges to buy as TV, the internet, radio and print urges us to spend, spend and spend some more. And while this alone is troublesome what compounds it is that our desires tend to be made of oil by-products or come to us by means of petroleum-fueled planes, ships and trains. 

I look in the mirror. Even though I have long opted out of buying gifts for others at Christmas I know I am still part of this seemingly endless oil-based cycle: I use a computer; drive my father’s car; wear polypro and listen to CDs. I use copiers, a cell phone and ride the bus; use Q-tips, sleeping bags and band-aids. I have two pair of glasses, put my garbage in plastic and may one day need hearing aids and antihistamines. I wear mascara, sunscreen and my apartment is carpeted. The list goes on. For a longer (but not complete list) click here.

I am against the Kinder Morgan expansion through Burnaby Mountain and the Enbridge pipeline across my beloved BC. I don’t want oil tankers navigating their way through our most vulnerable coast and I abhor the thought of trains derailing and spilling toxic chemicals. I’m an unapologetic tree hugger yet I know I am complicit.

Please look at this list and consider ways to decrease your oil consumption especially during this time of the year when excess can seem the norm. We are the ones who are ultimately responsible. Industry only gives us what we demand.

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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Fervent Needs and Soulful Wants

I’ve spent the last week contemplating the fine line between want and need; true desire and addiction. It started after a friend challenged me to sit in meditation rather than hike. And, while meditation is not foreign to me—it is an important part of who I am—I’ve tended to meditate in the woods … only after hiking. The act of movement a requisite to the want of stillness.

I am no stranger to this information. I’ve known for many years my need to be active; my disquiet with stillness. I’ve worked hard at tempering it down from an active addiction to a manageable desire. In recovery I find peace and tranquility within this quiet place. But the need to move always lingers in the background. I can sit in quiet meditation as long movement precedes it or is soon to follow. Hence the physical activity of hiking and the solace I find in the trees seem to complete me: a mergence of yin and yang; a dance of spirit and soul.

So when I took up the challenge it was not in want of giving up movement. It is not only health-giving but an aspect of life that I love. The issue was something else: could I find peace if movement is denied?

I chose the seaside to be my place of sitting. In the time I would have spent hiking and then, even in writing, I sat and watched the ocean as she touched the rocky shore—sometimes gently; other times with assertion—but always with a rhythm that pulled me in to her watery depths.

It is not always easy to sit. The need to move, the need to do anything, is powerful but then again, so is my want—my true desire—of the calm acceptance found only in the state of being.

Today is day eleven. Circumstances made it difficult to sit the last two days and I missed it. Over the last week I sat in rain and wind, bundled tight in Helly Hanson; in the warmth of the sun and the cool of the dark. I am only beginning to learn all I need to learn in that watery expanse but two things stand out.

The need to move is an age-old grasping to be strong, thin and safe. It has nothing to do with the enjoyment I find in the play of my muscles, a love of the forest and the strong spiritual connection I find when I am there.

The need “to do” carries forth in my writing. But, as above, my determination to publish a blog each week has little to do with my love of writing and the act of a disciplined art but more in the fear of failure, of not being enough; and of not being recognized.

Today I hiked and then I wrote. I also sat in stillness by the water. I enjoyed all three except that I really didn’t feel complete until I sat. I realize I won’t feel this way every day and, to be honest, it would not be great for my physical health but I know the completeness would have been there with just the sitting. I don’t need to write and I don’t need to move. I need just to be me.

It’s about inner discernment: of the fervent needs that try to fulfill a vacant past and the soulful wants that help me live a full and conscious life.

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