My daughter Lily wrote in one of her The Adventures of Green Girl blogs on Care2 that “Growing up ‘green,’ I was not only non-toxic physically, but I was also mentally non-toxic, if you will. Meaning, I had learned ways of freeing poisonous thoughts and feelings from my mind and from my emotions.”
Her entry made me think about the process of being green, and how the lifestyle is one of what Alice Walker so eloquently calls “the way of conscious harmlessness.” Lily seems to be implying that the general harmlessness of the lifestyle pervades many aspects of her life when she practices it. How beautiful.
When I think back to the long process of becoming green myself I see that the deepest wisdom of it was keying into what was harmless in my everyday life. By choosing what was harmless–and it was almost always natural and full of life force energy, be it an organic mattress or an essential oil–I felt myself thrive. I found myself wanting more and more of this pure lifestyle because it felt so vibrant and healthy. Soon the desire for the vibrancy spilled over from my food and product choices to the rest of my life. Who wants to be around toxic thoughts? Toxic cultural trends? I hadn’t realized the etiology until I read Lily’s blog.
For me, my chemical sensitivity from being severely poisoned by pesticides forced me to focus on life in a very granular, everyday way. On toxic fumes, in fact. Fumes wafting from newspapers, outgassing from old floor wax, and pesticide drift. The contrast in how you feel when surrounded by toxic materials and those instead that are part of our natural ecosystem is glaring and stark when you were as sick as I was. And it wasn’t until I had to be away from chemicals that I realized how many toxic chemicals we live with. The extent of the contamination is startling. Just walk into a hardware store or the cleaning aisle in the supermarket and you’ll get the idea.
It is also here, in the everyday world, where I found such an astonishing abundance of multifaceted gifts from nature providing us with safe materials. Finding these life-giving, nourishing materials with which to do my chores saved my life. There is a flow, a give and take. It takes effort to compost, yet what a reward!
Who’d ever have believed that the products we use for mundane chores would change the course of life, on a personal and planetary scale? But here we are. The harder we are on the Earth, the harder we and it will be on ourselves and others. Working with nature will save our lives collectively, too.
I hope that this joy in the green lifestyle, the lifestyle of conscious harmlessness, becomes the centerpiece of our future. This is the lifestyle that Lily and I find so settling. The joy isn’t just a feeling, it is something you know in every cell. You know it when you bite into an ear of corn grown by an heirloom seed and a symphony of sweetness and flavor bursts forth in your mouth, or when you have a heart-to-heart talk with a friend. To get back to Lily’s point, if the environment’s wounds mirror our human wounds as many spiritual leaders think they do, then the more we practice conscious harmlessness towards our environment, the more we will mirror back to ourselves its beauty, harmony, health and vibrancy.