Juxtaposed on a Planet

Last night I wondered why I’m not an insect.  There are only 4,000 species of mammals on the earth and over 100,000 species of insects.  There are even more microbes.  I was thinking how simply one of those animals lives in the soil, a short life with clear intent.  My life as a human seems so much more complicated.  Even so, by human standards, my life is pretty simple now.  I don’t have a job, and I’m done raising kids.  Today, I walked to a restaurant to have breakfast with Steve and his mom, then walked to the grocery store to buy vegetables.  I am making soup and working on the computer.  I made a phone call to my mother and left a voice message.  Pretty uneventful, you might say, but still involving a lot of decisions.  How did I impact the planet today?  Why did I buy that item?  Why did I use electricity?  Why did I throw that in the garbage?  Where did I spend my time and energy and why?  How did I get here, where I am today?

Yesterday I felt pretty exhausted by my busy week.  Socially, I had spent time with all my family and Steve’s plus met strangers on our camping trip.  Geographically, I had covered over 500 miles.  Physically, I had hiked some but sat in a car more.  Psychically, I had given a lot of energy to my most important relationships.  When I’m with my kids, I feel nameless parts of myself going out to them.  I look at them, all 4 together with full-grown energy, and I feel spent in some way.  I wonder about insects who live to reproduce and then die in a matter of hours.  That seems pretty simple.  What do I do with the years I may still be living?

The web of interconnections on the planet is unfathomable.  I feel like I dabble my foot in here and there, watching ripples emanate and then wonder what I did.  What was the meaning, what will be the result, was that responsible?  I have awareness but not full understanding.  I have appreciation and take action based on my best intentions, and may never even know the impact.  I am not in control.  I wonder if simplifying my life is really an effort to have more control.  I suppose I act in faith, as does everyone, in the end.

Sometimes the things that I see connected here on earth don’t make much sense.  How did we get giraffes in Madison WI?

Barn, windmill, maple tree, giraffe. One of these things is not like the others.

My human brain wants to separate things and put them into tidy, little boxes organized by my own way of thinking.  I want a rational world, everything doing its job in its place.  Then, all I have to do is figure out what my job is and what my place is and do it.  No more problems, no more conundrums, no more philosophical issues.  Neat.  Ah, but as Alan Watts says, the world is “wiggly”.  Lines are blurred.  Connections are made, broken, re-made, detoured, disappear, and appear willy-nilly.  Is there something I must do?  My energy is spent just thinking about it sometimes.  I suppose there is another way, a Middle Way, a way that has to do with finding the flow of energy and going with it.  I found a website today that talks about our ecological thoughtprint.  Before we place a footprint on the planet, or maybe as we place our footprints on the planet, we have a thoughtprint.  Learning about how we think about our connections and using that knowledge to help us to make better connections is a valuable lesson.  Education doesn’t begin with an A, but I think it belongs in the ‘awareness, appreciation, action, attitude, activism’ list.

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