We all know the mounting pressure: it seems like there’s a type of weight surrounding the average person, some kind of need to change, to make this world better for the next generation.
This pressure can be one of two things: an inky blackness which we walk around in, which we multiply by our own despair; or the call to deep introspection, to find our very individual and light-giving change as a gift for the next generation. Interpretation defines the difference.
But the shift into a new mode of life oftentimes can be quite difficult. When you break from the old way of living, tremors begin to happen not just in your physical or dietary lives, but in the deeper parts of yourself, your spiritual and mental lives. Many of these changes can be more intense than others, but my experience with change is that the best first steps are always practical.
Listening is key to any real change. Sensing the issue at hand, the quandary to be understood, and acting out of what is real. This is how humans grew from nature, how we have developed our minds and, in my opinion, how we will make this world better for our children and grandchildren. In fact, the more perceptive we are, the more aware of our bodies and the land we live on and from, the greater our powers and options for change will be.
The blessing of our world today is that many of the issues listed below are changed very simply on the consumer level. Simply opting for local companies cuts out excess transport fuel while typically increasing value. Companies like Amazon create a near instant demand-delivery system, and the network’s very wide distribution includes many companies doing excellent work to change this world for the better, the more natural. Avenues like these give me great hope that a blend of beautiful technology and the beauty of nature will create a truly peaceful future if enough participate.
Just remember: always give yourself space to shift. Whenever we make a change on a topical level of ourselves, something much deeper moves. Rest is important here, as well as daily meditation. Just be sure not to take things too seriously: I get the feeling humanity’s current pickle is due to a lack of humor anyway. These options below are all meant for your health, for where your peacefulness abounds, so does the natural peace of the world.
So just be chill, and change it all in stride.
What We Wear
The fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, according to this article by Forbes. The industry is beat only by oil in its wastefulness. Also, in places like the Middle East and Asia, where production of cotton is the main source of income for farmers, enormous amounts of water are used. In fact, one t-shirt uses as much water as one person drinks in 2 and a half years. THAT’S ALOT OF WATER. JEEZ.
Not only this, but industrial clothing manufacture can be incredibly dangerous for workers. The collapse of buildings has been very common to see on the news these last few years, and working conditions in general are typically highly unsafe and even abusive. Yet, what is not discussed as often is the high level of pesticides, destruction of the natural resources, and obliteration of cultural and environmental foundations healthy communities are founded on. And by the way, we feel all these things too: pesticides from raw material agriculture get into the water we drink, and contaminate our foods. Thought just food should be organic? Think again.
So how in the world do we opt into another way of being in relation to clothing? I mean, nudism past skinny dipping is just kinda weird.
The effective and practical solution is actually incredibly simple. When we buy, buy better. When we are done, give it away or recycle.
It’s incredibly interesting to me that some of the best clothes out there right now are actually made in a very responsible manner. Shops like Levi’s recycle much of the clothing their patrons bring back to the shops, and use organic and recycled materials in their clothes. Awesome brands like Prana (a personal favorite) and Patagonia feature large amounts of their lines that are organic and recycled. Typically they partner with land conservation and fair trade efforts as cornerstones to their work as well. There also is a large movement online of smaller brands and in-house shops making clothes from other clothes, or from discarded industrial materials. This company makes their stuff from recycled plastic bottles. Sounds weird? The Yankees and Portland Trailblazers use their stuff wholesale. The Trailblazers ain’t weird.
ALSO I recorded a video in which I unbox/”post-debox” the Sole Rebels shoes I ordered for Christmas. They are hand made and CRAZY comfortable, featuring an animal-free construction, recycled inner tubes and tires as key components, and the only WFTO certification of Fair Trade for a shoe company in Ethiopia. They check all the awesome boxes, and also offer products for people other than hippies (hipster yuppies..?). They also feature FREE SHIPPING, so check em out.
And when you’re done with your threads, find a new place for them instead of throwing them out. There’s about a half million people in the US who are homeless (and counting), and many are children. This winter has also been a record setter in many areas, and lots of people could use the warmth. Salvation Army and Goodwill provide jobs through the resale of donated clothing, and local clothing donation organizations do awesome jobs of making sure clothes are available for all.
Many brands are also doing really cool recycling programs. Madewell and Patagonia are owning with their initiatives, and even H&M is offering discounts on future purchases or store credit for used clothes. There’s lots of cool things happening in this industry, so there’s certainly hope to be had.
It’s the Food, Dude
So, this next part probably won’t be a shock to you. If it is, just hit up Netflix for the doc “What the Health.” Email me for digital Kleenex.
Alright, the bad news first:
As you’ve likely heard, our food production situation is bad. Like, really bad. Like, so bad our soil is falling into the ocean by the multi-acreage. When agro-expert and -innovator Mark Shepard (seriously, check this guy out) compares our Redwood forests with the Middle East’s forests of Lebanon, forests that are now desert, you know we are in trouble.
In fact, one of the worst industries in the world for the environment is agriculture. And most specifically, animal agriculture.
Now, I know this is a touchy subject. Lots of people get worked up in this type of convo, and for lots of reasons. Yes, there is real and genuine logic both for the plant-only diet due to genuine compassion and for a meat eating lifestyle. In fact, we need grazing animals to heal the land, and livestock is just the ticket. However, I have to say that, after growing up working a deer lease in my ‘teens with my dad, I have cut out animal products from my diet and life near entirely.
Well, “cut out” doesn’t quite cut it as my mindset. I would say instead that I’ve moved into a mentality of abundance: I believe that there is more than enough for everyone on this planet, and the consumption of anything hurtful to anyone/thing else is simply unnecessary.
In fact, a massive part of my own story has to do with a drastic decrease in depression and anxiety, bodily fat and joint inflammation upon the switch to pure plants. I found my zits gone, the darkness a little lifted (it wouldn’t clear until the last tip on this post), and my life much more beautiful and clarified. I didn’t get saved, just simplified. And a lot of that process I trace back to my high school years on the deer lease.
We worked hard 2-3 years to pull one buck. Ice, rain, blazing-Texas-mosquito-heat: we were there, driving fence posts and filling feeders, all for The One Take. That one buck would be skinned, butchered, and frozen to make literally a freezer and a half of cuts. We gave half to the food bank, and eat them all year. In fact, I still get a real thirst for fresh venison at times, especially in colder weather.
I considered that Real Meat. Meat you killed yourself, with your community, as a rite of passage. The rite kinda sucked, since the one deer we did get (oh, and I shot a hog. Lame.) took us literally a day and a night to clean and get in the suburban. And it was so cold, our fingers froze trying to gut it. Froze in the blood, mind you, with no processing shop open at 2 AM. Yup.
However, it was a rite. And it’s something I’m still proud of to this day, and grateful for having experienced. Yet, after That One Take, I think my meat eating days were numbered. A few years later myself and some friends had some serious talks and decided leaving the animal-eating way behind was a wise thing. It just didn’t make sense that we cared about humans, yet forgot about literally everything else on the face of the earth. And we were ahead of the curve too: “plant based” is one of the hottest phrases right now, and for good reason.
According to this article from Scientific American, “growing livestock feed in the U.S. alone requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year across some 149 million acres of cropland.” GOOD LORD. This surely ain’t a deer lease operation. And with 795 million people in the world going hungry every day, couldn’t that land be better used for something as awesome and restorative as a natural or food forest farm?
So the solution: eat real food.
A large part of my quest this past couple years has effectively been to figure out what exactly Real Food is. And what I’ve found at this stage might very well be the map to the Holy Grail. It also might be exactly where I came from.
Throughout childhood I was fed excellent home-cooked meals my mom and dad made. She would make time-tested family recipes; he would grill the chicken, and try to grow backyard vegetables. However, with high school and the advent of my driver’s license I ate a tremendous amount of fast food. I was a cross country runner, and so was skinny as a beanpole. While I could burn tons of calories and stayed toothpick-y, I experienced serious repercussions from this diet: horrible sinus allergies and insomnia, deep depression and scalding anxiety plagued me constantly. The running likely saved my life as an outlet, though its true fuel only came about through the careful meals of my parents.
College saw me thirty pounds heavier in one semester. I kept eating terrible food, growing more energy-less and listless, more tired and terrible about life. Culminating in deep distress, wondering how to survive at all the coming years much less a university degree, I took firm action. I realized ownership of life, both of my own and the life of everything else.
This decision was not separated from others; in fact, one of the primary points of stress was how to live in a way that gave, not simply destroyed. And this is where I shifted to a mostly plant-oriented diet, and later on, to a locally-oriented way of eating.
In fact, just this last fall I operated a food delivery service. A simple endeavor, I would drive to a large-scale Hill Country organic garden, pick up the produce, and deliver it to the doorsteps of neighbors. My revenue after gas was fresh food, but this alone lit up the lives of myself and family. Every other Friday was the family lunch: three generations together at one table. And my hauling this loot meant that all shared from the moment of my change in the dishes we were able to make and enjoy.
A diet based on plants is incredibly simple, and could quite simply change your life. By making a commitment to knowing where your food comes from (farmer’s markets make this tremendously simple, also food with
organic labels) you commit to the health of generations; by subbing in brown rice and beans (a perfect protein) and a fruit salad for red meat you literally save lives, including yours and your family’s, and your grandchildren, and their kids, too. All this, and the creation of community, lasting connection with the land, and an internal state of rest, knowing a good, serious step has been made.
All In Your Head
As stated in the introduction, the quality of our peacefulness determines the peace of the world around us. This is a very ancient, very powerful spiritual teaching: that the peace of the world is actually in our hearts, and the peace at the core of the world can be called out by our very lives, through this peace given naturally to us by our very existence.
Peace cannot be kept. Peace just is. It is in ourselves, it is the actual composition of the world. Without peace, this world would not exist. Without space, no newness would come into existence. Without the pause, the lungs could not shift to inhalation. And so on, etc, etc.
The beauty of real peace is that it has to do with rest. The parasympathetic nervous system is our system of “rest and digest.” This is the system that gets us our food, lets us be creative, and helps us just be, contented with life, initiating change in the quiet, fun, partying, meditative way with which natural, lasting change comes about. This state of being allows rational and gut change to occur as a natural way of life. Adapting is what we are good at as people. Perhaps let it happen in the products you buy as well.
So my recommendation for this subject: take some time to go for a walk, to be still in a natural place, to have a cup of tea with a friend. Have good conversations, go dance somewhere. Meditate, take life easy. The best work is done out of peaceful observation. Be that peace you want in the world.
And allow, without anxiety, the changes you need to move through you, like a gentle mist. Do not hold yourself, or any principle; instead, move with what clearly is needed in life. As a good friend always says: “take what you need, leave the rest.”
And a word on our planet: this land is very old. It is very wise. It has been through many shifts before, and it knows what to do.
One of the very wisest things we can strive for is a big, deep breath. Let the land rest, let our bodies rest, let our souls rest. This is how healing begins.
And check out my other blog posts: