I was seven years old with a new pair of red rubber rain boots. They were so awesome I insisted on wearing them every day to school, rain or shine. The rain would mean I’d get to jump into puddles with them; the sunshine I discovered just made the cherry-red color shinier. Sitting outside in one our outdoor class sessions one day, I remember Mrs. Wulf my first-grade teacher telling us about the concepts of energy. “Look at the sun it’s the main source of energy for life on earth: for humans, animals and plants.”
Then she continued by telling us to remove our shoes and stand bare feet on the grass. I obediently took off my red rubber boots and let the grass tickle my bare feet. “Many don’t know it, but the earth has positive energy that passes through our body and makes us healthy when we are in touch with it like if you were swimming in the ocean or being bare feet like now. It’s like a natural recharge.” Then to my surprise, she picked up my red rubber boots and waved them around, “It’s too bad that most of the shoes we wear like these rubber ones stop the positive energy from entering our body.”
It was years later that I fully understood the benefits of the earth’s positive ions and the concept of isolators or conductors. But at that moment I was horrified at the slander of my beloved red rubber boots. How can something so beautiful and shiny be an exhibit for something bad? Then followed the insistent phase of a little girl being barefoot, but that’s another story.
Photograph: My stepson, Daniel who also loves his red rubber boots.
Mrs. Wulf has a point, we humans are master inventors but most of our man-made contraptions and gizmos only isolate us further from the pulsing, vibrant, beautiful thing called the living environment. And what about lifestyle? That intangible human invention almost in an equation to concrete dreams, electricity high, and consumption addiction? We just get sucked in. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against technology and development it has helped to solve many problems and increased our quality of life, right? We can’t go back to being cavemen but I can’t help feeling we’ve gone way too far from a balanced coexistence with the planet. The quality of life and cultural advancement should not simply be equated to shiny new technologies and economic growth.
Let’s break down nature’s way of living and compare it to our modern slash industrial existence. In nature there is no waste, every byproduct of a natural system is a supplement for another, our society, on the other hand, generates an enormous amount of waste –and we don’t even know what to do with it. We live in a standardized reality where everything is mass produced – today around the world people watch the same TV shows, buy the same products, and have the same consumer ideals of what they call ‘the good life.’ Nature, on the other hand, is a torrid love affair with diversity and uniqueness: no two leaves or snowflakes are the same, every zebra and leopard have different marking patterns, even the most identical of twins have different characters. And what about social well-being? Nature relies on working relationships for its sustainability, the bee helps to pollinate the flowers, the worms help fertilize soil; the trees produce oxygen and provide housing for other critters (right about now, The Lion King soundtrack would be blaring ‘it’s the circle of life…’).
Photograph: but most of the time he just wants to go bare feet.
Forget the circle of life; we, on the other hand, are advancing on a linear path to achieve maximum income, higher GDP’s and material wealth, all at the expenses of the planet and our own sanity. Modernity has proven though that we are highly intelligent beings, capable of shaping and designing our own reality. It takes that highly intellectual being to step back, analyze the distortions, and make the necessary changes to regain that balance. Everything we consume, buy, eat, drink, wear, ride reflects our relationship with the planet. The money in our pockets is actually a voting tool. As consumers, we have a great deal of power by supporting the ethical companies and products and withdrawing our support from the ‘dirty’ ones. Awareness of global poverty, animal welfare, and green issues are at an all-time high.If we can carry this awareness into our shopping behavior, we can all work together to make sure that companies start treating, it and us, with more respect. While money may make the world go round, deciding how we spend our money might just save it from a rapid meltdown.
We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac
Environmentalists may shout out demands of change, and a revolutionary change is exactly what the world needs right now. But change cannot be achieved if it isn’t based on the most fundamental and logical reasons: Love. It is love, appreciation, and respect towards the living environment that is missing from most of us today. Not surprising, as development systematically pushes aside every natural element and experience out of our daily realities, nature sadly has become regarded only as an input to the economic system, its existence quantified and measured to be exploited for our needs.
We all own a pair of red rubber rain boots in the daily instruments and luxuries we surround ourselves with. We all adore and marvel at the ability of these boots to provide comfort in our daily lives, both functionally, socially and visually. But these rubber boots have slowly disconnected us from the spiritual and physical bond we share with the earth. The grass and earth feel foreign to our bare feet and we are no longer confident in walking bare sole to earth.
When you find yourself next confronted with a patch of grass, an open field or a stream of water, don’t look for ways to walk around it. Feel the freedom in kicking off your ‘red rubber boots’ to take time to reconnect. Go on a nature trek or an open door adventure, take time to recharge and rebuild that relationship you have with Mother Nature. Take time to allow your senses to fall in love again or maybe for the first time. In the robotic reality, we have allowed ourselves to be trapped in, feeling human again in our most natural setting is really what sets us free. Once you are again in that love affair with earth, you will find it’s the most natural thing to protect it. Your behavior and your decisions will mimic that deep affection you let yourself feel again.
The original article can be found here: Bare your Sole, Whiteboard Journal