A note from Erin:
A few days ago I went for a meandering stroll in the canyon and after overnight rain, the golden hills were wafting the sweet incense of autumnal decay. I breathed it in deep. I saw tiny insects and luminous spider threads. I squatted down to watch a big slug cross the trail in slow motion. I admired golden blades of grass in a giant unnamed field. I relished tiny rain droplets shining in the morning sun and I’m telling you, they were more beautiful than diamonds.
I heard the chorus of unpaid singers, the songbirds, the slowing crickets, and I even tuned into those magical whales singing in the deep oceans from this canyon. I felt full of reverence for all of those who sing the world alive. Then I felt the presence of the stones and the stars and my bones all singing what we must not forget: We belong to each other. Our love and reverence for this precious life matter.
There are so many things I question in the over-culture. Today, top of mind is success, especially the version of success that includes doing whatever you want – all without any reverence or responsibility to other people or the Earth or the future generations.
When I was young, many grown-ups in the 80s had bumper stickers on their cars that espoused this: He who dies with the most toys wins. I’m still astonished by that adolescent orientation to life, and it’s still so prevalent. Maybe it’s winning by dying with the most money or the most likes or the most enviable peak experiences or the least evidence of aging. We’re taught to think success is being free of responsibility and this is so clearly detrimental to our neighborhoods and the young ones and the more-than-human beings with whom we share these places. People’s eyes are so often glued to screens and ears are so often stuffed with headphones, it seems many people hardly notice the more-than-human beings and the shimmering world around them, which makes it so much easier for successful developers seeking more success to keep on razing the world.
I’m not interested the go go go, be a badass, make a million billion dollars, rack up peak experiences and post about them all, buy whatever you want (consequences be damned), don’t think small (which might just mean sustainable), keep manifesting moooore (even if you can’t appreciate what you already have) and certainly don’t age or look your age or act your age. Wow, this culture is just so weird.
I’m thinking of the version of success that involves closing the computer, going for a walk, and deeply appreciating the season on a meandering stroll that is not intended to burn calories or tone my ass, or actually improve me in any way, but to simply be in reverent embodied relationship with this temporary, beautiful life.
I love the kind of badassery that involves making a delicious soup for my family and friends from gorgeous vegetables I’ve grown from seed in our yard in the soil we’ve been nurturing for years; soup that includes the chicken broth I made over many scented hours from bones purchased from a dear local farmer who does not do industrial agriculture or factory farming. I like the kind of success that says piss off to grind culture; I’m going to take a rest and lay my head on my beloved’s shoulder or the shoulder of my pillow and simply listen to the rain. And then I’m going to praise the rain. Lavishly. I am thinking of the kind of badassery that is really being with grief and sorrow in ourselves and others without trying to fix it or bright-side it. That is seriously badass. So is really being with the vulnerability of full-bodied joy and savoring the gifts of this temporary aliveness and feeling that wholeheartedly. I want to be the kind of badass who says no thank you, your versions of success are not for me. And by the way, I am not a brand. I am not interested in selling myself.
I like the version of success grounded in the bone-deep knowledge that growing kinder is more important than growing a fortune.
I aspire to be more successful like the bees and live at the pace at which I might leave blossoming in my wake. Sometimes when I drive around beyond my wild yard and the tiny nook of my city I frequent and see all the development and all the nonsense billboards selling all kinds of things that make no sense to me at all, I can’t help but shake my head at the insanity of it all. Our modern lifestyle often feels to me like irreverent mining – we extract so much and leave so much ruin behind. If the ruin is out of our direct sight, then who cares, right?
I commit to stop living in this way. How much pleasure and beauty and joy can I find in the simple pleasures, in a life dedicated to the wellbeing of others, in a life lived as a love poem to the future?
Slowing down to receive the satisfaction of a simple, ordinary, connected, embodied life is part of my work in the world. Watching a goldfinch eating on the sunflowers that have mostly gone to seed, marveling at the intelligence shining through the eyes of a grasshopper on the comfrey leaf, witnessing at least 4 kinds of bees relishing the newly pink sedums, observing a mourning dove sipping at the birdbath, delighting in the pleasure of the bees and wasps and squirrels and cat drinking from the fountain, sipping a cup of tea made from herbs grown right here in what I’ve come to call the medicinal meadow. Moving my spine with curiosity and without domination. Breathing with appreciation and feeling the exhalations of the trees enter my body with reverence. There is so much beauty to take care of. I vow to do so, in my own imperfect, humble ways.
I carry a divining rod in my body, in my heart, guts, and bones. (So do you.) It’s a bullshit detector and a truth and beauty resonator. It is an aspect of indigenous soul that guides me toward right relationship, again and again. I vow to inhabit and honor it. I release the mind of urgency and the felt sense of having roots in the air that coincides with that hurried mind. Wouldn’t that kind of success feel good?
I plant my roots in the earth. I plant my roots in the cave of my heart’s knowing. I place my roots in this bodily divining rod that keeps me humble and heartful, that keeps me tuned into the calling to meet these times with courage and love, that keeps me on the long and exacting process of aligning my life with my values. I plant my roots right here in this breath. I’m so grateful to be alive. And I’m so grateful you’re alive too.
And as Mary says, just think, you have this day, and maybe still another. And maybe still another…