Recently I took drastic measures to shift my perspective and conjure up some new ideas, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it!
You see, I’ve been talking a lot lately with activist allies about climate change, or global warming, or climate chaos if you prefer. Like so many earthlings, we are deeply concerned about the safety of the food we eat, our air and water, our farms and gardens, our health and that of the pollinators, soils and seas, and the impact a changing climate will have on them all. And despite lots and lots of studies of how best to talk about these issues with others, it still seems as if we are all a little bit stuck.
It’s been a long strange 25 years since NASA scientist James Hansen’s groundbreaking report laying out the scope of the problem. His findings helped fuel a global movement of environmental and climate activism, but also, oddly enough, kicked off a quarter-century of bizarre climate-denialism that we are only starting to crawl out from under.
So the ongoing challenge at hand is how best to share the truth of the situation—a truth which is literally life-threatening—in a way that serves both to kindly, gently hold one another as we awaken to this reality, and yet also to inspire the creativity and community we know can help us navigate and adapt to what the future holds. A tall order for a 30-second sound byte or a t-shirt slogan, right? To see it in a new way I went for a radical shift in perspective. Here’s how:
1) Turn everything upside down. I chose long bouts of handstand, but even if you can’t do a yoga inversion, you too can shift your perspective and see things in a new way. Grab your journal and lie down on some soft sand or grass, or lean backwards over a rock or a chair and look at the world upside down for at least 90 seconds. I found a new attitude as the blood rushed to my head, and the colors seemed brighter with everything 180 degrees askew.
2) Be a stranger in your own town. I took an hour, dressed up in my dorkiest tourist garb and walked Main Street and the neighborhoods of my town, doing my best to see it as if for the first time. Chronicling details I normally breeze right by, I lingered to peek in storefronts or observe yards I’ve rushed past a dozen times before. Just by opening to this quest for newness, I was rewarded at every turn by curious wonder and beauty. What might await you if you were to do the same?
3) Find someone you don’t see eye-to-eye with and have a heart-to-heart. The most rewarding of my perspective-jarring explorations to date was investing time getting to know a person with very different political perspectives. We met over brunch, where he had what I was having, (surprise, we are both on a gluten-free diet!) and discussed our life paths, religion, local politics and eventually, global warming. As you might have guessed, despite our dissimilar beliefs and attitudes, our talk reminded me how much we humans all have in common, and his interest in my ideas challenged me to express myself with greater clarity. And wow, it’s actually really fun to like someone even when I don’t agree with their politics.
Maybe you’ll try these mindset-shifting exercises yourself, then grab some cardboard and paint to design your own special message to share with the world about why climate change matters to you. Bring your sign and some fellow spiritual activists and strut your fresh perspective, either in New York at the People’s Climate March September 21st or in your own town for a solidarity action that week. I’ll see you (with a whole new perspective) in the streets!