Living the Change
I am a city girl. I do enjoy hiking and hugging trees, but ultimately my perfect day involves a lot of coffee shop visits, wandering around museums, and admiring urban architecture.
This has been on my mind a lot lately, as I feel like I want to connect to nature more, but I also know I am not at my happiest in nature. I do need to be in it regularly, but I also crave culture and people and civilisation. Moreover, I constantly feel like I could do so much more in terms of low-impact living if I spent more time in nature and if I understood it more.
Last night I went to see a documentary called Living the Change, which perfectly reflected my city/nature conundrum.
Directed by New Zealand-adopted Ozzies Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson, Living the Change depicts the very real, very alarming crisis that our planet is going through.
Simply put, the first third of the movie denounces how in the past 100 years we have been exploiting the planet like there's no tomorrow - which there might as well not be, if we don't make some drastic changes NOW.
Since fossil fuels came into play, we've had such an abundance of them that we've been drilling them out of the ground without worrying whether they might run out one day. But guess what? Fossil fuels are finite - when they're gone, they're gone. And they are almost gone.
The world uses a whopping 95 million barrels of oil per day. We use fossil fuels for freaking everything, including growing food and distributing it, which makes you think: How did we get to the point of having a system of feeding the world based on something that's temporary?
On top of all this, we have developed and grown accustomed to a standard of life that we can no longer afford. Consumerism is what keeps the economy going. We want more, so we have to work more to be able to buy more, and we exploit the planet more to produce more and MORE. We have become greedy. Nature gives us all we need, yet we have a constant craving for more and more things that supposedly will makes us happy.
Of course a byproduct of this consumeristic mentality of ours is waste. There’s no getting away with it: we just consume too much stuff. We are wasteful and not efficient. Plus, we still can't get our head round the idea that when we dispose of something, we can't throw it away. There's no such thing as away. Our waste just go somewhere else where we can't see it, but it's still there somewhere. It doesn't magically disappear.
But these detrimental behaviours are not sustainable to maintain. If we don't stop pushing, something's gonna give.
In the documentary, Shane Ward raises a very interesting point: If, for whatever reason, supermarkets stopped selling food for three days, how would you survive? Or even for one day? What would you do?
What would I do?
This really stuck with me because it made me realise that I'm putting so much energy into reducing my impact on the planet, generating as little waste as possible, doing all this research into sustainable living, and I don't even know how to grow my own food. I am 100% reliant on a system that needs to run smooth and fluid because if it breaks I would be lost.
And this brings me back to my relationship with nature.
After a pretty depressing introduction, the film takes a better turn presenting a few examples of some pretty extraordinaries individuals around New Zealand who are quite literally living the change, by growing their own food, living off the grid, and creating communities of likeminded people who work with the earth and not against it.
Watching these exemplary humans living in harmony with nature, giving back as much as they are taking from it, really made me think that there really is a special connection between us and the planet.
Humans and nature have been so strictly intertwined for most of history, and they still are, but it seems that we are forgetting that. We are not separate, we are just as wild as nature is. But we have evolved in a different direction and now we think it's ok to strip the land off everything she has to offer - but it can't last. We can't be disconnected to our planet. We belong to the land, the land doesn't belong to us.
We are one with nature - and I don't mean this in mystical terms. What I mean is, we used to live in harmony with nature and we've lost it. We think we are entitled to take take take and want want want, and we don't worry about what's going to happen once it's all gone, about future generations; it's all about ME and NOW, and whoever comes next - it's their problem.
We have forgotten what it means to live together, in harmony with nature and with each other.
We need to recover this wholeness that we have lost, this connection to the earth. We need to fall back in love with the planet, otherwise the system is going to collapse.
I left the screening with a bittersweet mix of emotions. I was upset and frustrated from learning all those facts and figures and how bad the reality is. But I was also incredibly inspired. There are people out there who really believe things can get better, amazing humans who are showing us that not everything is lost. A better world is possible, but we need to act NOW.