Conscious Living

Today as I sat down for lunch at a restaurant in Boulder, I read a quote on the wall saying, "This Earth does not belong to us. We belong to this Earth." Though you may not reside on this planet in the flesh any longer, you nourished it while you were here – as though you were a respectful guest being mindful of someone's home.

On one of your first trips to Austin, we were in my kitchen making a snack. You asked if I had a napkin. I snagged a couple paper towels off the roll and handed them to you. You, without a word, gently ripped each paper towel in half, then you took one half, and ripped that in half – leaving a quarter of a paper towel for yourself. You sat the other remnants of towel back near the roll and joined me at the table. "Why did you do that?" I asked, thoughtlessly. "I just don't need a whole one, no sense in wasting," you said.

I thought of all the times I'd unrolled a clump of paper towels, even the ones claiming to be the most absorbent, just to wipe a spill of water off the counter. I thought of the napkins I'd grabbed from a restaurant, by the handfuls, and then carelessly trashed later when they went unused. I thought of the multitudes of ketchup packets I had never opened and then tossed into the garbage. I thought of so much waste I had created – stomping around this Earth two Carbon footprints at a time. And then I saw, you – thoughtful, conscious – taking the time to consider what you needed and how you could avoid waste.

When I got to your home in Boulder, first as a visitor and then eventually as a resident, I joined you in using cloth napkins at every meal. They weren't even just cloth napkins, they were squares of cotton that your ex-girlfriend had sewn from remnants, as to not waste unused fabric. They were sewn haphazardly and by no means a trendy item – but for day-to-day lunch and dinner, they were perfect. (And still are perfect.) My use of paper towels has dwindled down to a quarter here, a quarter there. When I wipe the counters, I use a cloth, never a paper product. I, learning from you, grab just a couple napkins when getting takeout, and then the ones that are unused, get put in the console of my car or in my purse for when the next need arises. And if it hadn't been for you, my love, I would still be piling paper into the trash.

Fast forward six months to when you and I arrived in Black Rock City for Burning Man. I was ready. My luggage overflowed with my Playa necessities: tutus, feathers, glitter, pasties, fishnets, steampunk garb, panties, and five pairs of boots. You also brought some necessities: an RV, EL-wire, headlamps, bikes, an electric scooter, jugs of water, first aid kits, camelbacks, water bottles, batteries, electrolytes, duct tape, oh... and food. They says Burning Man makes or breaks a relationship. Our time on the Playa made us closer than I've ever felt possible with another human. And outside of our duo, Burning Man let me see people from a whole new perspective: intrinsically GOOD. Every soul we met on the Playa was friendly and every soul we met on the Playa was conscious – they simply cared about the land, the values of the event and city, and the Earth.

In Burning-Man-speak, any trash is referred to as MOOP, or 'matter out of place'. As a part of the duty as a citizen of Black Rock City, they ask you to pick up MOOP when you see it laying around. Whether its a stray sequin, a tossed cup, or a pile of shit in Deep Playa, you take responsibility for it as if it were your own and aid to dispose of it properly. Ted, you did your due diligence. To this day, when I find any of your Playa gear, every pocket is stuffed with MOOP you cleaned up. I never once heard you bitch about other peoples trash. I never once saw an ounce of irritation as you stopped the scooter to dispose of an array of other Burners' tossed items. You simply did it because you were a conscious and kind man.

You are an example to the other sixty-five thousand citizens of BRC because you embody the elements that the city strives to set in place. You arrived to the city with care and packed-in what you thought necessary (and also not too much). You helped the camp organize our site and contributed to the art projects installed. You danced your face off, partied till sunrise, and lived large. You picked up other people's shit all along the way. You visited art, you climbed, you admired, you watched, and most importantly, you participated. You loved – you loved me, you loved your camp mates, and you loved every person you met along the way. You, in the midst of a city of over-stimulation, intoxication, and intensity – allowed yourself (and me) to stop, look around, be grateful, and stay conscious.

When I moved to Boulder we settled into a beautiful life together in this gorgeous home. A home you purchased because you wanted to be surrounded by nature. A home that allowed us to be somewhat off-the-grid – solar panels allowed us to sell electricity back to the city, well-water let us be mindful about quality and consumption, acreage allowed us privacy and interaction with wilderness, and the view allowed us intensely of sublime beauty. Again, my Ted, you were living as one with this Earth, in partnership. What you took, you paid back.

When we would get our weekly sushi delivery, you always remembered to tell the delivery man not to bring chopsticks and soy packets – we didn't need them. The average person, myself included, could easily forget that thoughtful action. When we bought food, you insisted on shopping locally – and beyond that, you wanted to purchase food and products that came from conscious companies. You read many articles on whether farm or wild fish was more humane, wanting to know all sides of the story and then make up your mind for yourself, and not because of hearsay. When we went to the store, you always remembered your bags. In fact, you also always remembered to put bags in my car too, so I would also have them.

When it came time to take out the recycling, my love, you labored over separating the glass from the plastic. You took the caps off of each glass bottle and disposed of them individually and properly. You stayed current on which clam shell containers were recyclable – lettuce containers: yes, but berry containers: no. When your band left after weekly Tuesday rehearsals, you went through the trash to make sure all of their beer cans were thrown away in the proper bin, and then, you woke up early to take out the trash and recycling. You made sure the bags were tied. You made sure the bags were secure in the trash cans. You made sure you didn't take them out too early, so animals would get to them first. And you never once asked Kevin or I to do it, until we started insisting.

And while, when I moved in with you, I finally had to give a firm "NO!" to single-ply recycled toilet paper, you gently helped me through the learning curve of living consciously. I thought I had been kind to the environment before I met you, but I realized the huge gap. Tossing my garbage into the one of the eight proper receptacles (?) at Whole Foods and attempting to distinguish trash from recycling is not all I can do. Because of you, I live with more regard for reduction of waste, consumption, and consideration for Earth, because we belong to it – it does not belong to us.

Now you've risen from this Earth into something larger. Just a few days ago, you came to your best friend Frenchy in a vision. You told him to ask you some questions. He, knowing you were dead, asked you "Is there a God?" You told him, with a quiet smile, "There is a a higher power larger than anything imaginable taking care of everything." I have no doubt you are right. And while there may be something holistically all-encompassing beyond this Earthly realm, while I am here on this planet, I will take care of it with consciousness and selflessness, as you strove to do everyday. I will not rely on others. I will not rely on something grander to take care of my shit. I will be responsible: for me, for the citizens of the world, for the Earth, and for you.

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