This one is going to be a bit longer folks, hold on tight. I wanted to do something for Earth Day. So here I am.
I recently experienced a whomping by my anxiety. I'm not shy about it, but this flavor was different. I felt the air sucked out of my lungs and I suddenly was very worried about climate change. A quick Google search has over 50% of adults experiencing specifically climate anxiety. We all know that there are few ways our daily habits can change when corporations and governments aren't fighting the good fight right next to us.
However, there are things we can do. Small things, and big things. Over on Twitter a huge discussion is happening around Shein, and fast fashion in particular. We all are aware that fast fashion isn't great but the argument is how can we afford slow fashion with the general state of the world? The solution is less consumption and making our clothes last longer.
What else can we do? I'm a part of Buy Nothing groups on Facebook, and I donate my clothes to shelters where I can. The biggest thing though: I am working toward contentment rather than consumption. Something The Trail Ahead had me thinking about even more today.
Arielle Nissenblatt shot me a message suggesting The Trail Ahead, and on a whim, I put it on today. It was an incredibly cathartic episode to listen to: Leading with Curiosity as the Way to Change with Noël Russell.
Hosted by Faith E. Briggs and Addie Thompson- The Trail Ahead combines athleticism with environmentalism. Our hosts dig into the conversations where environment, race, history, and culture meet. Episodes are about an hour long and make you think and feel in equal measure. These ladies are calming and guide the conversations with ease. The production quality is solid, not distracting, and I find joy here that I could soak in for hours.
April 12th's episode is easy to listen to. Noël Russell is a dog mom, van lifer, and writer. I suggest just taking this episode for a spin overall, but especially when thinking about Earth Day.
Listening to Noël dig into her childhood, her connection with writing, and nature nearly had me tearing up. Not only is she a great storyteller but, Noël and I had a similar childhood. A great matriarchal grandmother that quietly cradles you in her kindness and caring- an outdoors-based upbringing that quickly translates into a deep love for nature. If Noël hadn't mentioned being Mexican American, I would have imagined her as one of my cousins (honestly I did honestly). So many of these flavors were so familiar. I felt at home in these voices and conversations.
Since moving to New Jersey I've become keenly aware of what wanting more means. Not just on the level of how much I'm consuming in an environmental way, but what that means for my spirit.
I thought I wanted more. A better paying job, a house, more and more and more. After some reflection, I really want more contentment. Sure, I want Magpie here to do well and I'd love to eventually have a little bit more space in our apartment. For the most part though? I'm happy. I see so many people wanting more. Noël shares a similar feeling and we both share a desire for more people to feel content, and I love that.
The conversation ended on a note that I can't believe, but I know is real. Nature gatekeeping. As a lifelong camper, I do have to say I remember the first time I saw people who weren't white on our campgrounds. I hate that this is a memory, that camping and living in nature is something so many people have felt boxed out of.
Moving forward with curiosity is Noël's suggestion. Be curious and kind to these people who are stepping into the "outdoorsy" life for the first time. Be curious about the outdoors and all the ways we can interact with it. It doesn't have to be hiking the biggest mountains, it can be gardening. It can be a walk in the park with your child.
It can be me, swinging on the bench in the shadow of my grandparents' garage, nose tucked into a book, birds my ambient noise. My personal memory of what content means. What nature can be for us. On this Earth Day let's think more about these ideas - what we can do. Remember to vote, be active in your community, but also remember to work to be content with what you have. It'll go farther for your soul.
The Trail Ahead is something I look forward to digging into more, I hope you do too.