Today is Earthday 2013 and I was reflecting on how an understanding of our relationship to the earth has become more of an integral part of our lives, not just one day a year. I’m not going to focus here on the dire threats to our ecology and the perils of climate change. They are important to address, but sometimes so big that I yearn for simpler, more immediate changes I can grasp. Perhaps that’s why the little, everyday options have caught my attention.
My local small city, El Cerrito, has a fabulous re-cycling site. They take dozens of hard to dispose of items. Yesterday I dropped off two neon light bulbs (that remained from a long defunct fish tank), flower pots of several sized (saved “just in case” I needed them), a broken microwave oven (we used it for a long time), some books and an Apple keyboard and mouse for the community exchange and more. It’s not that I’m bragging about all the things lurking in my backyard shed, but really I was inspired by the clean, well organized, easy-to-access center. We need to care when we make choices about what to buy and what we use, but it certainly helps when there are 0rganized ways to handle the things that remain undigestible by the earth. I was grateful for the planning of our city.
So I started thinking about how recycling applies to our own personal selves. I am referring to the an attitude we take toward ourselves when we are not happy with our own behaviors or are having a hard time with our feelings or challenges. We get the idea that we must throw out our old selves and go looking for a new bright shiny version, something smarter, funnier, more successful, the popular model. I’m very supportive of the desire to make changes but what if we are treating our internal process from a disposable consumer strategy. This “me” is out of date. I want the new style.
How about an approach of recycling one’s self. Looking deeply, what do you appreciate about your qualities and your gifts. Perhaps there is a way you can re-organize your gifts, express them in other venues, hold them in a different way, relate to your problems in a fresh light. What are the things about you that you take for granted but another person would be glad to have? This even applies to family patterns and the complicated nature of what we inherit from our parents and ancestors. I left home at sixteen. I wanted to be different than my mother. I wanted to be happier, more optimistic. I wanted to leave behind the anxiety and tension I remembered from the home in which I grew up.
I grew my hair long (it was the sixties), wore colorful, flowing skirts, fiddled on the guitar–all good stuff–but I didn’t truly find the freedom and peace of mind I sought until I turned back to my roots, uncovered and claimed my mother’s history. As I understood the choices she made from her perspective, I felt kinder toward who she was, and kinder toward the ways I am like her no matter how far I run. I hear myself saying some expression and think, “oh, that was mom’s voice” and am humbled by how my inheritance shows up in me, but I am not limited by accepting these realizations.
I don’t know if recycling self is a fair way to put it, but I welcome your thoughts. And by the way, The Woman in the Photograph: The Search for My Mother’s Past makes a great Mother’s Day present. For those of you who read on Kindle, I will be offering it FREE in honor of Mother’s Day for the first three days in May (May 1-3) in Kindle format on Amazon. Check it out and tell your friends. And of course it’s always available in print on Amazon.