I'm in the forest in my salvaged ragtag bed sheet skirt. A basket filled with foraged mushrooms hangs in the crook of my arm as I walk flanked by deer and badgers, squirrels and butterflies. We're communing without words, breathing in fresh air - the taste of soil and moss. We've just come from a ceremony celebrating the ancient oaks or pines. Whatever they are, in the woods, labels don't matter. The animals love me and I love them. It's a divine love that rests on recognizing one another's true spirits; that we are all equal.
When I arrive back at the tree house, my partner, shirtless, bronzed and glowing from days in the sun, greets me. He's been tending to the gardens, making music and inventions. We're off the grid, harvesting the sun's rays and drinking rain water. When we seek more company, we simply walk to the nearest village to meet friends. They 're all creative folk -- environmentalists, charming, deep, spiritual, yogi types. We only eat what we can forage and make, and that's a surprising amount since in this forest you can find avocados and rice, tamari and peanut butter. On occasion, the badgers bring me raw mint chocolate and sparkling water and I rub their bellies.
I think of this place often. A place where I can have it all and no one gets hurts.
I contemplate this alternate world because I'm not sure I can be a part of this current society and at the same time stay true to all the things I believe. There are measures that can be taken -- buying organic food at the local farmers market, not eating animals, buying used clothes, using environmentally friendly products, conserving resources, being kind, etc. -- but even with all that, there's still more that can be done.
What I'm grappling with is the arbitrary line where I decide some injustices are okay while others are not. If I don't draw this line, day-to-day activities become damn near impossible to negotiate. Then it seems my only option is to move to the forest but I'm not sure how I'll watch Survivor there or eat nori and cashew cream.
The inter-connectivity that unites us all -- humans, animals, nations -- it begs us to do better by and for one another and that's what's driving me to reflect on all of this. It seems paramount to not get discouraged when the injustices seem too big but to instead be curious about how to help. Instead of resisting the change that follows learning, I'm striving to joyfully accept it. The outcome then is more freedom, love and joy for us all.
In yoga, we do not say ignorance is bliss.
We say ignorance is dukkha -- ignorance is suffering.
To live peacefully requires acceptance and understanding. I realize that I cannot change the world, I can only change myself. But therein lies the rub. By changing myself I do change the world because I am connected to everything. Little by little, my actions have an impact and living with this responsibility is an empowering and uniting force.
I guess there is a part of me that still wants to run away. To live in the forest, in nature, away from all the human destruction and consumption. I don't know what that would solve except that I wouldn't have to witness or be a part of all the injustices any longer. That too is a kind of ignorance though, I suppose. Or maybe it's not. Maybe by taking myself out of the equation and creating my own, I become part of an alternative to the status quo.
It's hard to know how best to live in this world. The most important thing I'm learning is to keep learning and to be inquisitive about the way I live my life; to be ready to change and grow and transform with every moment. I must always remember in all that I do that my life is intimately tied to the lives of all beings, even when some days it might seem we're worlds apart.