Environmentalism is what brought me to Poseidon. The short(ish) version of the story is: when I was a wee pagan and a somewhat less-wee human, I was a mess. Understandably, given the circumstances, but a mess is a mess is a mess, and I was a mess. Events conspired so that things were happening roughly around the same time. I was beginning to open out of my Ice Princess shell; I was seeking for Something More; I was having a nervous breakdown (that thus enabled me to be opened even further) and, importantly, I had the breathing space in which to have said nervous breakdown. We were coming out of survival mode at my house and that brought space with it. Emotional space, in which one could safely fall apart for a bit.
When I say that environmentalism is what brought me to Poseidon, I don’t mean it in some sort of “I was an activist in realms that might touch upon Poseidon’s spheres and found Him that way.” I wasn’t an activist in the sense that I joined groups and did stuff and promoted causes. My activism has always been . . .quieter. I do go out and pick up garbage; I don’t make a fuss about it. (Not that activism as attention-grabbing is wrong; it’s not, it serves an important purpose and I’m all for it, so long as I don’t have to do it! Attention is great, except for when you mix people into the mix and then it’s just way too much for me.) What I mean is: I hated us, hated our species, wanted us all to be done with, wanted the planet to heal, wanted us off it, couldn’t comprehend why we were here or what good we could possibly be doing. It reached a point of critical mass, exploded, and the Poseidon calmly, gently gathered up the pieces and held onto them while I mended myself.
And, for a long, long time, environmentalism placed itself between Poseidon and I. It became this thing, this thing that I should totally be into, that should be my life’s goal, the betterment of the planet and the environment (you know, small goals!) and everything else is extraneous and a waste of time and what of worth do I have to offer anyway if it’s not this sacrifice of my life to these things? Look at the state of our oceans, look at the miles of plastic in the seas, look at the fishing industry and the depletion of fish. How do I call myself Poseidon’s anything and not just be a walking, breathing protest against these problems?
We reached a place, some time ago, when I finally realized that’s it’s enough for me to live my life as best I can, with these issues in mind. I’m not going to be a trailblazer. I’m not going to discover solutions, and I’m not going to become an activist in any sort of get-out-and-do-BIG-things way. And, heh, because Poseidon knows me and, as we like to say here at our house, didn’t just meet me, He knows there are things I’m not built to do.
Still it bugs me. So, I eat as locally as I can. I eat organically. I’ve cut out a ton of plastic usage in my daily life (it’s not perfect, and I’m not militant about it; it doesn’t do me or anyone else any good if I get myself so worked up over something that I can barely function and thus default into mindless choice making that ends up bad choice making. Know thyself) I’m not a typical American “consumer”; I live frugally, I try to reduce my footprint, etc.I know, as I go forward, that I can only change me (and maybe influence others around me by example and exposure) and most of the time, that’s enough because it has to be enough because we can’t do more than that. But then there are times when it’s not okay because it’s such a HUGE deal and our whole approach to living is broken and how do we fix that? We aren’t careful, we aren’t frugal, we are wasteful and thoughtless and short-sighted and care nothing about generations from ow and the legacy of poison and depletion we’re leaving behind. There is no accountability for the future, and it’s terrible. It’s mind-numbingly terrible.
Which brings me into empathy. Empathy is an extremely useful tool when you know that it’s there, when you have the space to be aware of its affect on your life, but it’s incredibly debilitating when it’s brand-spanking new and when you don’t have any coping tools in place to help you deal with it. So, you end up on your knees in the surf, sobbing your soul out under a summer’s full moon, exposed, stripped back to your marrow, until a helpful god walks by and gathers you up for safe-keeping. My empathy is the receptive sort, and it’s pretty passive. I don’t really project my own emotions on to others (unless I’m in protective mode, at least; beware the gimlet stare!) It is useful when it’s not overwhelming, but it’s also my biggest enemy when it comes to dealing with these issues. (because, as Poseidon’s, shouldn’t this be my Big Concern to the Exclusion of All Else? I mean, plastic ocean!) Empathy for the not-human, and then empathy for the human, and then it’s too much and I’m numb and that’s no good for anyone.
It’s a back and forth, finding a balance. How to tackle issues, how much of a priority to give them, how to talk about them (if at all). On the one hand, I want to say things like, how can we be pagan, how can we honor the gods we honor, how can we honor our ancestors, how can we honor what is given to us, and then go out and get burgers and fries at, say, McDonalds? On the other hand, McDonalds provides people with jobs, provide cheap, warm food, in certain places provides a safe meeting place for kids to romp around under the eyes of their parents. Yes, I know the food is crap, but I also know (from having been there) that there are times when warm and filling and affordable makes all the difference, and when one is struggling with other crisis-like situations, not having to think about where dinner is coming from is a sanity-saver. These things can’t just be dismissed because of our ideals. (See? How we live our lives is broken).