Something New, Something Conscious

Well, hello there. How ya doing? Have you finished all your snacks yet? I sure as hell have. Plantain chip reserves have been depleted, as have the Trader Joe’s soft & juicy mango packs. Almond butter is scarily low {edit: jar finished while writing this piece}, and the peanut butter cups that I was sure would last me at least three weeks were gone in three nights. Guess I am now going to have to actually “cook” the tofu I bought.

I am going to assume that COVID-19 has taken the place of the “weather” for most of us in our daily discourse. As in, it has to come up at the top of the hour; otherwise, it just seems like you are so out of touch that you don’t know what is going on.

We have been discussing Corona since my first grad school class back at the end of January. Following the spread of the virus was not so much due to our fears of it wreaking havoc on a global-scale (at least at first), but instead because many of the graphs and data correlated with those used for climate change. Watching the spread of Corona and the ways in which governments and societies reacted (or didn’t) gave us a front-row seat to many of the concepts and issues that we are learning about re: sustainability and climate change. At this point, you have probably seen the meme stating “Climate Change Needs To Hire Corona’s Publicist” – it remains my favorite.

One of the most mesmerizing things about the past couple of weeks is how suddenly, everyone (mostly) is ready and willing to make massive changes in their lives, even though smaller switches are met with outrage when affiliated with climate change. Part of this is because our brains are unable to process climate change. According to Dan Gilbert, a Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, this is because climate change lacks four fundamental features that typically trigger an immediate response: Intention, Immoral, Imminent, Instantaneous. In other words, we don’t think climate change is intending to kill us nor violating our moral sensibilities (although Greta Thunberg is changing that). Plus, for most people, climate change seems like a far off threat and something that is going to change gradually over time. These characteristics mean that our brain just doesn’t compute it as a threat.

Compare that with Corona, and you have the complete opposite situation. Corona very much intends to kill us, and moral sensibilities are wrapped up in “social distancing” and “putting the community before yourself.” Imminent and instantaneous are two of the finest words to describe the threat of this virus, which explains why the entire world has managed to do SO MUCH in such a short amount of time. Have you seen that the water flowing through the Venice canals is clear for the first time in a long time, and the swans and fish have returned? Or that Coronavirus has temporarily reduced China’s CO2 emissions by a quarter? Something that would have seemed impossible a couple of months ago.

I know, I know. It seems cruel to bring up climate change when we are all trying to deal with this pandemic. (I’m intense, what can I say?) But, they are so intimately related. There are many links between climate change and infectious diseases, as rising temperatures make our natural immune systems less effective. But more than that, Corona has highlighted how closely interconnected our global community is, as well as how vulnerable our systems are. We are witnessing the depth of connection we need and recognizing that, ultimately, none of us is an island.

This time sucks and it is going to be difficult, but in some ways, it is necessary – Mother Earth is getting impatient. Let’s not let this period transpire in vain. Instead, let’s use it as a time to reprioritize, slow down, and be happy that Planet Earth is getting some downtime. She deserves it.

To be fair, this is not the “Welcome to Something Conscious” post I had envisioned writing – although it seems eerily on point – and I have been procrastinating writing anything because what are you supposed to say at a time like this? I just want to get into the actual content!!! But, I have to say something about changing the name again (for the last time, I promise!!!). Back in February, I decided to rename the site as it had moved far from being just about me, and it seemed wrong and inconsistent with the mission to have my name towering above the interviews and features that have become more common around these parts.

This is not a website about me or my life. While it is centered around what I am talking about, what I want to be reading, and what I am learning in school and from conversations with those who are in sustainability-related fields, it is evolving into a place that is about creating a community concerned with conscious living. I don’t have answers on my own yet – now more than ever – it is clear that a more conscious lifestyle is the way forward.

So, the purpose of the editorial content is to inspire you, teach you things, make you laugh, and maybe make you mad (sorry!) as we all learn to navigate what “conscious living” looks like in 2020 and beyond. For starters, it is both political and cultural and requires us to look after ourselves, our communities, and the planet. There are so many unanswered questions and anxieties about what the future will bring – especially the immediate future – but one thing is for sure, there is no way we can get through it without each other.

To our daily dose of something conscious.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *