New Year’s Revolutions

Okay. I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I like to do what I call, New Years Revolutions. I have a little list of things I would like to accomplish this year:

1) Be more of an advocate for the environment. I grew up free-diving the reefs of the Caribbean. I remember an over-abundance of life. While scuba-diving in Mauritius, there was an impressive quantity of fish, but the coral and the reef itself was suffering. So much of it was dead or dying. I feel like I do not do enough for this beautiful home that we live on. So I vow to do more this year.

2) Along the same lines, my last meal containing an animal was 1/8/14. I am going to become a vegetarian. I also want to be more aware of my food footprint in general. The more I read and the more I see the conditions of this Earth, the more I realize I need to curb my carbon footprint. Meat is one of the largest carbon bombs. I cannot be an advocate for the environment and climate change and continue to eat meat.

3) Do more of the things that I enjoy. I love rock-climbing, but certain things have kept me from it. I need to do more of it, no matter what. And this goes for other things as well. I let certain things take over my life or get in the way of things I want to do or enjoy. I will not let that happen this year.

4) I want to read more books. While I was on vacation I read 4 books. I read when I am at home I don’t read as much. This kind of goes along with #3. I love to read, but at home, TV and other things distract me from it. Books are such a great source to get information from. They can transport you to different lands. I want to go on more journeys and to educate myself more.

5) I want to watch less television. I am not sure how much I watch compare to others. I like to watch the news and some shows. But I want to watch less. In an effort to watch less, I have already disconnected my cable and am cable-free.

6) I am going to abide by the 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking: Don’t gossip. Avoid judgment. Ditch the negativity. Quit complaining. Stop making excuses. Don’t exaggerate. Ditch the dogma. And follow the 4 Rules of Good Speaking: Be honest. Be authentic. Have integrity. Operate from a place of love.

7) I want to list things I am THANKFUL for every day. And let people whom I am thankful for know that I am thankful for them. I am reminded of one of my favorite poems: “I tell [God] I have begun to learn what/ Heaven is about. She wants to hear./ It is, I say, being thankful for eternity.” When I express gratitude, I feel so much better. And I know that spreads. Gratitude is something that is not expressed enough in this day and age.

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Endurance

ImageThis is perhaps my favorite Antarctic picture. It was taken by Frank Hurley during Shackleton’s Endurance expedition 1914-1916. Whenever I am down, I look at this photo. It is the last time this beautiful ship, the Endurance, was in full sail. It was completely encased in ice and had been this way for many months. Shackleton was low on fuel and supplies. To put this ship at full throttle with those sails open was Shackleton’s Hail-Mary to get her free. She never left the ice again and not too long after this photo was taken, the Endurance was crushed and swallowed by ice.

There’s so much that this image means to me. First off, the name of the ship – Endurance. She endured more than any other ship and put in a valiant effort to resist the ice. Shackleton himself showed immense endurance himself. When this photo was taken, his last hope to free his home that served his men and him so well, he still had hope. He had hope to get her free and get either to his destination on the continent of Antarctica or to one of the whaling stations. After this photo was taken, when he realized that the Endurance would not come free, was probably Shackleton’s darkest moment.

Instead of giving in and surrendering to the ice, at his darkest moment, Shackleton decided to endure. He had to make some of the most difficult decisions anyone ever had to make. He went on to lead 28 men to safety. They camped for many months on the sea ice, they sailed without modern navigation to the nearest land mass. Once there Shackleton knew they couldn’t stay there forever and took off with 6 men to make an epic journey to South Georgia where there were several whaling stations. When he made landfall he realized he was on the wrong end of the island and hiked across never-navigated lands (which were not navigated again til a couple years ago) with no equipment. They put nails into the soles of their shoes to make crampons. They reached their destination and were able to rescue all of 28 men.

So whenever life to me feels impossible, and it seems like I cannot go on, I look at this photograph. It shows both hope and despair. It shows people who wouldn’t give up, even in the face of the impossible

Just Like the First Time

Just Like the First Time

Do you remember the first time you discovered something new? Experienced a new sensation? Felt something? Do you remember what innocence is like? If we all could connect to nature like this little girl experiencing rain for the first time, the world would be a better place. The astrophysicist, Neil Neil deGrasse Tyson, once said “For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” Even before I knew the existence of this quote, I always lived life this way. Always went outside or delved deep into a book to find something about the world I didn’t know. Always tried to lesson the suffering of others – whether it be of people, of animals, or of the Earth. So today, go out. Discover something you didn’t know. Find that sensation, that joy. Embrace the sky.

On Activism & Pete Seeger

The environmental and human rights movement has lost their tuning fork on Monday, the great Pete Seeger. I was fortunate enough to be one of the many to see and hear Pete sing live at President Obama’s inauguration in 2009. A year before that I got to listen to him give a private concert with his grandson in the Catskills. But Pete really didn’t give concerts – he led sing-a-longs. Anywhere Pete was singing – whether it was a gathering of 50 people or millions, he always got everyone together to join him and sing. He had the immense power to bring people together.

There is much that can be learned from the example of Pete Seeger. He is a man that has always fought for the less fortunate, always stood for what is right, never wavered from his path, and always stayed true to himself. There is one thing though about Pete Seeger that has always stood out and has always inspired me: his activism. I remember an interview he once gave on Democracy Now! and I whenever I get discouraged about making a difference, I always remember it:

I imagine the future is going to be a million little things saving the world. I imagine a big seesaw. And at one end of the seesaw is on the ground with a basket half full of big rocks in it. The other end of the seesaw is up in the air, it’s got a basket one-quarter full of sand. And some of us have got teaspoons and we’re trying to fill it with sand. A lot of people are laughing at us & saying “oh people like you have been trying do that for thousands of years, it’s leaking out as fast as you’re putting it in.”  But we’re saying “we’re getting more people with teaspoons all the time and we think one of these years you’ll see that whole seesaw go in the other direction.” And the other people will say “gee how did it happen so suddenly?” Us & all of our little teaspoons.

This analogy of the seesaw is something that stuck with me. Sometimes, whatever task us activists take on, feels monumental. It feels like there’s no way we can make a difference. But it is important to remember that we are. Pete often said “the future is going to be a million little things saving the world.” I frequently have heard him say this in other interviews. It is a message that needs to get out there to every activist that is trying to save the world. It makes a difference to every tree we plant, to ever bird we release, to ever piece of plastic we recycle. These are all the teaspoons of sand we are putting in the basket that will eventually tip the seesaw in our favor.

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