Stop and smell the roses
by Hayden Smith
For some people, Earth Day is a special, rare reminder about how beautiful our planet is and how much we need to protect it. For those of us who try to stay more informed, Earth Day is a slightly louder reminder amongst the constant barrage of sources telling us how we are failing as a planet.
As this holiday approaches, we remember our ever-present anxieties over going green. Are we supporting the right environmental causes? Are we using the right light bulbs and reusable bags? Are we already too late?
There is a recognizable trend in younger generations of existential dread and apocalyptic fears. We see the world we inherited as a world marked for death. Some of us find this anxiety motivation to activism, both large-scale in the shape of supporting companies and legislative measures to protect the environment and small-scale in the form of quiet boycotts, recycling trips and carpooling.
Some of us become overwhelmed and give up altogether, proclaiming that the earth is too far gone and there’s no way to fix things.
Of course, for the former, Earth Day provides plenty of events to become slightly more neurotic over, from protests to sales to volunteering to parades. Along with those, every major publication wants to put out a new study showing us just how doomed we truly are, feeding into everyone else’s nihilism.
What we are really seeing, as many social and political activists can easily recognize, are people with burnout and those well on their way. Burnout happens when too much time and energy, both physical and emotional, are invested in demanding causes and issues.
It follows that the generation of the information age, being constantly tuned in, is almost always investing time and energy into environmental causes – willingly or not.
There is an easy fix for the burnout so many suffer from: take a break.
It may sound counterintuitive to ignore the earth but there is a simple solution without pretending you’re on Mars. Taking a break doesn’t mean stepping away from the environment. Taking a break means stepping away from articles and activism about the environment, if only for a day or two.
When April 22 rolls around, there will be a million opportunities to feed your anxieties about our inevitable demise, regardless of if you believe we can do something about it.
In lieu of stressing out over nature, take a walk in nature. Find a local hiking trail, botanical garden or even a simple park. If you absolutely cannot resist taking up a cause that day, focus less on drastic environmental changes and more on simple activities you can perform outdoors, such as planting trees with a group or starting your own garden, whether for reducing your waste or just for fun.
Get outside, enjoy yourself and enjoy your surroundings. This Earth Day, instead of focusing on how to save the world, focus on remembering why the world is worth saving in the first place.
Copyright 2017 The Gayly – April 21, 2017 @ 12:45 p.m.