–by Peter Kalmus (Jul 20th, 2017)
The path I’m on has three parts. One is intellectual understanding: the head. The head allows me to prioritize. It helps me navigate to my goals, although I find it’s not always good at choosing those goals. One of the lessons I’ve learned is that I’m limited, in time, energy, and ability; if I’m to make any progress I need to choose my path wisely. This means asking the right questions, gathering information about reality as it is (which is often different than how it appears to be, or how I want it to be), and drawing conclusions objectively. The head is a scientist.
Another part of my path is practical action: the hands. As we’ll see, society’s business-as-usual trajectory is carrying us toward disaster. If we wish to avoid disaster, we must take action. Since I can’t change the entire global trajectory single-handedly, I perform practical and local actions, changing myself and how I live right here and right now. Direct practical action is empowering; it brings measurable, tangible change. It’s fun, and therefore I can sustain it easily. It also provides its own guidance. Time and again I’ve found that only by taking a step—making some actual change—is the next step revealed. I find that all the planning and intellectualizing in the world can’t substitute for just doing something. There’s wisdom in doing.
A third part of my path is seeing from the heart. This third part is what connects me to myself, to other people, and to nature. Without it, action can become compulsive, joyless. Connection brings purpose and meaning to thought and action.
I have a specific and concrete practice for this third part: I meditate by observing my body and mind in a particular way. Meditation allows me to be joyful (most of the time) even while studying global warming every day at work. Meditation helps me connect to the sea of everyday miracles around me—the plants growing, the sun shining, my older son lovingly putting his arm around his brother’s shoulders. I find great strength in this awareness.
These three parts support and balance one another. In shaping a response to our predicament, each part is important.
–Peter Kalmus. Excerpt from his recently published book: Being the Change: Live Well and Spark a Climate Revolution. [Creative drawing by Dharma Comics :-)]