Greeny Blues

Do you ever feel like being green makes you blue?

When I first started out on this green journey 7 months ago, I felt powerless and alone. What a massive problem – what can my tiny voice do? I am just a regular mom. How is changing my actions going to affect anything? I am just one person among billions.

Then I found a community of like minded people, first with fellow bloggers, then among family and friends. I needed to try, to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. I committed to change my ways.

This propelled me for several months. It was exciting! I was changing my lifestyle left, right and centre. Lights off, laundry hung up to dry, heat turned down, no more plastic bags, no more food in boxes, more bus rides, less mall shopping, more local shopping, more farmer’s markets, no new clothes, more gently used clothes, no more Styrofoam, no more paper napkins, way less food waste…

And then finally – I built myself a real vegetable garden to call my own.

It was fun. I did things one way for a decade, then bam I changed it all up. It threw my husband for a loop – why all the change?  He thought I was crazy. But for me it felt really good, I was doing something about this problem called climate change. I didn’t feel powerless anymore. I had a purpose. I had a reason for my actions. This was incredibly fulfilling.

However along the way I also learned a lot more about the state of our little planet Earth, this small marble of life in a Universe so vast…

The Earth flag is not an official flag, since ...

Image via Wikipedia

I learned that we need to be really scared about the future. I learned that there are great political, social and economic forces against the reduction of CO2, forces so strong, and so well-funded, and so engrained in our very culture. These forces happen to be also very good at spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the science of climate change.

I also learned that we don’t have much more time. I learned that our window for turning things around is not measured in decades, but in mere years.

We only have a few years to change.

On one hand I am defiantly hopeful, that there will be enough of us on the good side, on the side that chooses life and sustainability, over convenience and consumerism. That more and more people will figure out what I figured out 7 months ago, and make changes, and inspire others to make changes, who will inspire others, and this whole thing will tip, so that more of us want to do something about it than don’t want to do something, that more of us will look beyond the borders of our little lives and realize that we are part of something bigger, something magnificent and fantastic and we will collectively realize the power we have to change. We will act for each other, for our children and our children’s children. We will act for humanity itself.

On the other hand I am scared. What if enough people don’t join in? What if the governments of the world take just a bit too long to act? What if we keep burning and burning oil, putting more C02 into the sky, and don’t stop before it is too late? We all know that the oil is going to run out one day, and we will have to transition to something else. What if we don’t make that transition when there is still a world worth saving?

Hence, the blues.

Have you ever just cried … for the world? Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed about it all, and it saddens me so deeply and greatly, that I just cry. I cry for the children. I cry for their future.

Am I crazy?

I want to do more, I resolve to do more, I have long lists of things that I want to accomplish, letters to write, actions to take, committees to join. But I struggle. Being a busy working mom, there is just not enough time in each day to do all that I want to do. My minutes feel like tiny raindrops of gold, so precious, so few, so easily lost.

How will I live this life? How will I make a difference? How will I contribute to this groundswell of people now growing steadily, of those committed to living green, spreading green and building a sustainable world for our children? Imagine being a part of something so amazing and magnificent? Imagine being part of the movement that ushered in the solution, in the face of the greatest problem to ever face humanity? I know the stakes are high and the hour is late, I just need to find time between doing the laundry and doing the dishes to pitch in.

Plus I look around me, and everywhere I go, there are constant reminders of how far we need to go to turn this thing around. Pick a category: Food. Transport. Consumerism. Energy. Economy. It all has to change – radically.

We will get there. We have to. The enormity of it all though, has this greenie feelin’ a bit blue.


16 thoughts on “Greeny Blues

    • Hi Daniella! That is is very inspiring post, thanks for sharing it. It is so true, it just takes one peron with an idea to get the ball rolling and many people can get inspired and join in that it becomes something amazing! I need to remember this. That ball has to keep on rolling!

  1. It can leave you feeling blue can’t it… There is so much to take in, and try and change all at once.
    Every little bit helps though, and you having this blog also helps. Even if it changes one readers actions by a post you have written- it’s worth it.

    • You are totally right, every bit counts, and I will never stop trying. I just want to be able to look my kids in the eyes and tell them I tried. I will never know how many people I influenced. I just have to continue on continuing on, trusting that my actions matter, that I am contributing in a meaningful way, and that we will get there…. 🙂

  2. Very honest post, Sherry, and I appreciate the responses, too. Lately I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed with my “to do” list, too (on the top, like your’s is – work damn hard towards a sustainable future for my children). I’m trying to remember to pace myself, and give myself credit for what I DO get done each day. And, try to do things that give me pleasure, like playing cards with my kids or gardening. Today had some difficult parts – more bad news about the ocean, not to mention John Baird blathering on during the news – but then I got onto our electric scooter/low-speed motorcycle for the first time since passing my motorcycle learner’s test yesterday. Woo hoo – was that ever fun!! I think I’ll have to do that whenever I get to feeling down in the dumps these days!

  3. You and me both, Sherry. I cry for the world a lot. Sometimes, after I feel sad, I start feeling angry, because it’s hard work to make all of these changes, stick with them, and add more every week – there are no vacations when you want to live life sustainably. Meanwhile people like us are outnumbered, vastly, by those who do not only an average amount of damage but a disproportionally large amount of damage. I’m so angry with those people. A small number of us take one for the team, and the team doesn’t thank us or even notice what we’re doing. I only keep going because I’d be more angry with myself if I gave up.

    • I feel the anger too sometimes, but mostly overwhelmed and sad. Most people don’t consider the environment and sustainability in their everyday actions. They just go on auto-pilot, and do things how they have always done. Wake up people!

      It is especially annoying when you come across stupid wasteful things, that wipe out all the good changes you have been making 10 fold, or even a million fold…. Grrrr.

  4. I’m with you, Sherry. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I’m incredibly down. It feels so vastly overwhelming trying to live more sustainably all while huge powers loom overhead, continuing their destructive practices. How how how how will we stop them? This is the mindset that helps keep me sane:

    I only have a finite amount of time and energy, I am only one person with one lifetime. I don’t know whether I will see truly transformative change in my lifetime, I don’t know if we will reach that necessary tipping point, I can only believe we will and work for it. I know in my heart what’s true for me and what it is I want to live and work for. I don’t want to be depressed forever, as that won’t help me become a more effective changemaker. So I need to take care of myself and remember my personal happiness. Not every moment of my life will be spent fighting the good fight, because that takes away from my personal nourishment. And I can’t give up this work because there’s nothing else I want to do. So I guess I try to find a balance between personal happiness and working for social progress.

    Just a few days ago I came across an evolutionary biologist named Elisabet Sahtouris who has changed my world. She shares on her website the story of the butterfly metamorphosis, and likens it to the great change that we must undergo to survive. The caterpillar eats 300x its weight everyday, devastating local plant life. Eventually it eats so much it’s ready to pupate and transform into an entirely new creature, the butterfly. It turns out that adult butterfly stem cells, called imaginal cells, lay dormant inside the caterpillar until the pupa forms, at which point they start to grow and divide and replace the old caterpillar cells. She likens the ‘imaginal cells’ to those of us who dream of a better world, and says at the end, “If you want a butterfly world, don’t step on the caterpillar, but join forces with other imaginal cells to build a better future for all!”

    Which I found to be very inspiring 🙂

    • I love the catepiller/butterfly analogy. We have to all work together, we are all in this together!

      I agree with the statement that you need to nourish yourself first, because when I feel unhappy and blah, my creativity and motivation to keep spreading change plumet. So I need to keep upbeat. Sometimes I think that means looking away from the green (bad) news, it can get so depressing after a while.

      • I think it does, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing whatsoever. We are humans, not robots. We can’t be plugged into the negative green machine 100% of the time, it’s incredibly draining. Personally, I can’t read about depressing environmental news anymore. I already know a lot of it, so I don’t want to be surrounded by it constantly. I try to read about changemakers who inspire me, and the solutions that people have successfully implemented to keep me upbeat. Yes! Magazine is a really great source for that. I guess my goal is to provide some kind of a solution. I don’t really want to fight/debate with the other side over who’s right and wrong. I just want to show and prove that a better method exists. So in that sense I don’t need to keep abreast of all the intricate details of what’s going wrong, only that it is going wrong and a replacement is necessary.

        Also, I try to envision what my life might look like were I to live in my dream world. I wouldn’t need to be raising so much consciousness, trying to explain my view in all different angles to try and connect with people. I wouldn’t feel so out of place, on the fringe, as though I was the crazy one. I would probably be living a simple sustainable life with friends, gardening, writing, hanging out, listening to and making music, tinkering with my personal hobbies, crafts, and experiments, and overall just trying to live a fun, meaningful life.

        When I’m feeling exhausted and blue about the nasty stuff that goes on, I try to be grateful for all the things we do have right now: almost-equal women’s rights, growing success of the gay marriage movement, the blogosphere, other greenies and activists, a democracy – even if it’s not perfect it’s better than no freedom of speech like I experienced in China, growing urban agriculture movement, growing interest for sustainability in mainstream corps, etc. I also try to live that life in my dream world and that allows me to momentarily forget the overwhelming battle before us.

        And most importantly, I let go. I do what I can in what time I have, and try to simply be satisfied with that. I still try to do more and make progress, but I try to remain detached from the process as my anxiety can really inhibit me. I forgive myself frequently for my mistakes, trusting myself to ultimately move forward despite minor setbacks.

        Sorry my comments have been so long, but I just wanted to share my way of dealing with this. Hope you feel better!

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