i was washing my hair the other day and (not for the first time) noticed how chemical-laden my shampoo is. i felt the usual nagging guilt. the same admonishing voice in my head, informing me i’m poisoning the earth with my every lather. the sense of defeat that, when it comes to my hair, vanity prevails.
then came the justifications: that this is not my ‘regular’ shampoo, the one that’s much more natural and paraben/polysorbate/SLS-free. all the other body care products i use are similarly natural (at least the labels say so). i recycle every last scrap of paper possible. i don’t have a vehicle, so i’m not contributing to any of those nasty fuel emissions, which puts me way ahead of the masses. (feeling quite virtuous now.) i use my ceramic coffee mug, whenever i remember it. oh, and gaia’s my mother, so it’s not like she wants me to be miserable. if i want to occasionally shampoo my hair with the aid of a few chemicals to preserve my copper-hued tresses, surely she understands. it’s tough to be a human, and i’m allowed a few concessions now and then.
i still kinda feel like shit.
i know that i’ve lost that essential connection with mother earth. i’m not sure that my efforts to ‘save’ her are motivated by a deep reverence and bond to her as a sentient being, as much as the niggling internal voice that tells me i ‘should’ be doing more.
i was in eighth grade when i was first introduced to the concept of The Environment, and how we humans are to blame for its current state. since then i’ve been fastidious about my recycling, i’ve written letters, i’ve signed petitions. but i’m a city girl. i haven’t gone to protests or participated in blockades. i’ve grown up with concrete and convenience. and nature was not necessarily an inviting place growing up. it wasn’t that it was perilous; just, after the age of five, it became more…well, boring. less fun and exciting.
thankfully this has changed in recent years, but i still feel slightly alien in nature. i’m literally on unfamiliar ground.
can one be truly motivated to ‘save’ something they’re not connected to on a very deep level? i have good friends who really embody a relationship with gaia. there’s no doubting it; they radiate their reverence and respect, and their actions reflect it. so when i use my nasty shampoo, i feel like a total imposter. i question my practice of doing some things, but not others. is it my appearance that marks the line, and does this make me weak, shallow?
what i feel is deeper than a nagging guilt; it’s sadness and disconnection and frustration. mixed with an urge to lighten up and stop over-thinking everything.
in accordance with what seems to be the general theme of this year, i feel it’s time to step up my game. move the philosophizing and analyzing into action. i know that gaia does not want me to be so hard on myself, and that it would be good for me in general to ease up on the self-judgment. i also know gaia would probably love to have a relationship with me, and is waiting for me to make the first move.
all this begs a related question: can we truly connect with gaia in the city? author caroline myss puts it this way:“[Y]ou are on the ‘Earth’ as much when you are standing in the midst of New York City or London as you are in the middle of a forest. You are still ‘on the Earth’. Standing on concrete or in a building does not make it any less ‘Earth’ except if you hold to the perception that what qualifies for the ‘Earth’ is out of the city in green or desert nature. But that’s an illusion. How can you ever be off or away from the ‘Earth’? It’s precisely that perception – that Nature is in the country but not in the city – that maintains the illusion of separateness. You may prefer to be in the country but you always on the Earth” (http://www.myss.com/news/archive/2011/031311.asp).
will all this result in my green endeavours becoming more authentic, more motivated by the heart than the head? i don’t know if things will be dramatically different as this relationship evolves, but my internal conflict is reason enough to try. i sense that beneath my urban conditioning, the ‘real’ me is having these conflicts precisely because my city/nature life has become far too imbalanced.
though i do agree with myss’s sentiment above, i’m increasingly having fantasies of a lush green climate with no electronic devices, sirens, and honking cars. this city girl is more than ready for a change of scenery. bring it on, mama.