This morning my nephew, Bob McGahey, emailed to alert me of two blogposts he thought I’d take an interest in. They concerned the role of religion and the state of the planet. Bob is a devout Quaker and an eco-educator. In responding to his posts, I found my topic for this week’s blog of my own! Here goes.
For me, the unquenchable human spirit is my beacon. I am renewed daily by my own inexplicable and irreducible 500-year To Do List–what is it about me (and others) that never lacks lust for life? Yesterday’s story (Charlotte Observer) of trumpeter John Parker, who auditioned for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra his senior year at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who at 23 is among the youngest principal players in the history of the symphony, and who will play the Shostakovich Concerto for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra this weekend, was rejuvenating. Meanwhile, Carolina Panther quarterback Cam Newton’s rejection of all animal protein but fish–just for the discipline of it, he says, no other reason–is token of the human spirit nudging itself Platonically towards some ineffable ideal. Ineffable but real in its compelling drawing power. These driven souls are not all leaders–some are creators, builders, parents, athletes, inventors, writers. They are not like me, but they are my kin.
It seems to me that the universal idea of a higher power is a form of that inner drive towards an ideal, or a set of ideals. Some need to give this engagement in life a name. I am comfortable leaving it unnamed.
But whether we name the drive towards the true, beautiful, and good or whether we accept it for what it is, we must know that preventive maintenance is necessary for our machines (earth, self) to keep burning. Aesop’s peasant greedily cut open his ever-golden-egg-laying-goose only to discover normal innards and not a cache of more gold. Rather than try to exhaust our earth of gold (oil, rainforests) and to push our bodies towards excellence (world records, fortune), we must have the good sense to take care of the earth’s production capability through respecting the purity of her air, water, soil, and denizens, as well as our body’s performance capability through respecting her evolved needs of sleep, nutrition, love, kindness, and exercise.
Dag Hammarskjold once suggested that world peace might ensue from everyone committing to develop one high quality relationship. Perhaps the same could be said for our bodies—commit to at least one healthy bodily practice (such as adequate sleep or regular aerobic exercise), and our earth–that our planetary home might be conserved by everyone committing to one significant way to decrease their carbon footprint. Ten years ago, Jane and I eliminated our second car in that spirit. My carbon footprint is now at 15,674, as calculated here: http://carbonfootprint.c2es.org/?gclid=CO6f65Pgq8gCFVc6gQod8mwMCA
What’s yours? What can we do as a next step to protect Mother Earth? When we were in Tokyo recently, we remarked that we were impressed by the practice of bus drivers turning off their engines while parked at the entry to our hotel. Our host commented that Shinto practitioners treat the earth as their home, and that unnecessary running of motors is regarded as something like urinating on one’s living room carpet. That was a powerful image. Now, at the end of the day when I get the car to pick up Jane in the portico of our building, off with the motor and down with the windows as I await her smile to join me!
Enjoy your golden eggs, but take really good care of that goose!