“Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee” – Mohammad Ali
At a family gathering today a conversation caused me to reflect on this quote and how it is relevant to how we can choose to live life. The conversation was with a three-generation span about climate, humanity and change. Frustrations over the outlook for the younger generation came out and how in their lifetime they could indeed see the point of no return for the planet.
It was just the other day that my youngest son brought up bees, and how if the bees were to all die ultimately we would all die. My son and I talked about how different animals contribute to the survival of the planet. We talked of how we all play a part on earth, and some have had a much bigger impact than others. Today the topic came up about a beach clean up on the Seychelles remote atoll of Aldabra where over 50,000 flip flops were among the 25 tonnes of debris washed up from the ocean. It took over 5 weeks to clean this up. Sad to think that while this materialistic waste is being picked up off the beach that there is an ocean full of more debris. Some of the sea life including mussels, clams and microbes are all trying to do their part in filtrating the water while we as humans continue to pollute it.
Not only debris is a culprit to ocean life but gluttony plays its hand. Take the sturgeon as an example of a species that is over 200 million years old and now unfortunately, are in the list of critically endangered species. Humans harvest sturgeon’s eggs at such a high rate that this sadly is the main threat to this amazing deep sea creature. It was also reported that the fishing for fish sea bass and hake was responsible for the deaths over 1000 dolphins in March 2019. It was found that their fins get caught in the nets, and the fisherman cut off the fins, so the nets do not get damaged.
The younger generation asked why wasn’t anything changing and how did it get to this point. I considered this and remembered going to watch a screening of Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. I wondered how much had been done since that was first released. I know that at the time in our own community many people were in shock about the contents. I looked up how long ago that was and was shocked that it was 2006. 13 years ago. In 13 years what has changed as far as helping our planet? I then remembered Bee Movie which introduced in a family friendly way the concept of how important the bees are to the survival of earth. This was released in 2007. 12 years ago. The animated movie WALL-E also came to mind where what is left of the human race has to live on a space ship while the planet heals. Earth is full of trash piled high, and only a few robots live on it to take samples and send reports. This was released in 2008. 11 years ago. Currently, at the dump or indeed the stores there is an excessive amount of everything. Anything you can possibly think of or want all at our disposal and most of it we don’t actually need. It is similar to the movie and stuff is, in fact, taking over everything.
With this in mind I thought on the sloth and how it takes in its needs from close by and keeps movement and action to an absolute minimum. It doesn’t seek beyond what is that basic need. The fact that sloths have been on this planet for almost 64 million years shows that their slow and resourceful strategy is a success. We as humans are always looking outside of ourselves and keeping such a face-paced life that our priorities and health are at risk. Becoming more sloth-like and keeping things to a minimum not only benefits our own mental state and health but it also keeps our impact on the earth minimized. Slow and sloth-like leads to a longer richer life. It is a little like the tortoise and the hare. We are currently in hare mode racing to the finish line and tortoise can, in fact, enjoy a lengthier, calmer and more peaceful way of getting there.
I know from social media some feel that global warming and the dying of our planet is thought to be a conspiracy theory or scare tactics. There is so much evidence of the earth failing around us, and humans are failing the earth. Comfort and greed are outweighing morality. Do we really need sea bass and hake that badly that we are willing to kill dolphins for it? Do we really need weed or dandelion-free lawns more than we need bees that are the essence of thriving life on this planet? Do we need caviar enough that we are willing to make species extinct?
Most of us will not react or take action until it directly affects us and sadly when it does it will most likely be too late to make the change. It was asked today if we could do just one thing that could make a difference and commit to it what would it be. Some of the younger generation asked if there was a point as so many others won't change or sacrifice their comfort. If we all did make the one choice could it make a difference?
I did a test run on a possible decision that I could make. I considered the grocery store I go to and how much I spend there per week. I then multiplied it over a year I was shocked that if my one choice were to completely buy local, I would take over $16,000 away from corporations. Multiply that by 10 other families making that same choice, for example, would be $160,000 taken away. How about 50 or 100 families? That is a huge sum of money and all making a change. The point isn't to take jobs away from the grocery store; it is to tip the balance of making local and sustainable food more affordable. To reduce packaging and waste and to allow local growers to thrive and corporations to reduce their pollution output. This was a great financial exercise to see what a difference just one person's decision could make.
2035 or 2050 have both been surmised to be the point of no return for our planet. If you will still be alive at that point or have children what is one thing you can do right now and stick to? Would you play your part in making sure that the point of no return doesn’t happen? What legacy do you want to leave behind for your children or grandchildren?
The dance of the bee is coming to a very slow waltz as we continue to walk in our own cloud of illusion. Floating like a butterfly is essential at this time by taking graceful care of yourself, loved ones and the earth. Allow love and forgiveness to grow while softly creating subtle healing. It is a little like coming out of your own cocoon of rebirth and taking your place alongside all living things and starting to ripple change.
This is an absolutely beautiful planet that provides and gifts us with air, water and nourishment. Because of this planet, we can love, laugh and cry. We can fall in love, dance and sing. We can be in this very moment because of this planet.
So do you want to float like the butterfly and sting like a bee? Do you want your actions count as the bee makes its sting count? Do you want to float like a butterfly? Loving life for its beauty and being part of a thriving ecosystem?
Remember a butterfly is living proof that when faced with a possible dire end a beautiful beginning can take place.
Andrea Lines-Botell is a mental health advocate and life coach with a passion for dynamically supporting change.
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