When I look back to my life almost 5 years ago, what I see in myself makes me sad. I was sleep walking through life. The only time I think I felt alive is when I was running. And that’s because I was running from a lot of problems, or maybe the better word to use is doubts. Doubts about myself. Doubts about my marriage. About whether or not I wanted to have kids. About whether what I had then was all that there is to be in life.
If you had said to me five years ago that I would be riding my bike to work or taking mass transit, I would have laughed. My motto was always “friends don’t let friends take mass transit.” (true story). If you would have told me that I would be living alone with 5 cats and a dog, I never would have believed you. I wouldn’t have thought about how much love I feel in my heart when I come home from a day at work, and there are 6 furry creatures crowding toward the door with one wagging her tail quite enthusiastically. It is the best moment of my day, because they are my family. (Granted, they are probably crowding the door because they are hungry, but I choose to think it’s because they love their mommy.)
Back then, I don’t think I even knew that tiny houses existed. Or even heard the term “peak oil.” I was afraid to volunteer at an animal shelter because I was worried I would get too attached to the animals. Well, maybe it is true that I get very attached to some of them (ahem, did I mention I have 5 cats?), and I now consider my visits to the shelter as one of the biggest highlights of my week. Sure, I’m not doing something glamorous – in fact it’s dirty work, cleaning out stalls. But I absolutely love the way the animals respond when they see me or one of the other volunteers. They know they’re safe with us. Also, the horse and pony know I usually have treats on me in the form of an apple or carrots, etc.
Back then, I ate meat. Summertime meant grilled steak tips or chicken. I had no clue about how animals were treated on factory farms, or if I did, I chose not to think about it. Nowadays, while I still like the aroma of cooked meat, I can’t bring myself to eat any of it. It’s because I realize that every person can make a small difference and the result of all of us can be cumulative. So if someone asks me why I am vegetarian, I explain why. I don’t want to be a part of any of that suffering. So that’s why I am now working on cutting out dairy. People say to me “but they don’t slaughter the dairy cows” but yes, I think they do. They all eventually come to an end.
Right now, I’m taking an Intro to Animal Science class and the chapter we are covering now is called “Harvest.” Not the harvest that you think of where you end up with a bunch of awesome fruits and veggies, but as in “harvesting” an animal. It’s killing me to listen to it. I know that the professor is definitely from the midwest and has grown up with that way of life, so I try to not fault him. People in that world tend to view animals as a commodity, whereas I view them as a living, breathing, feeling soul. I have to write a brief research paper for the class, and I’d like to stay in line with my values, so I have to see what I can come up with. I’ll report back on that.
I recently came upon a webpage called Sustainablehuman.me I watched the video that shows up on the home page a few times. I found myself with tears in my eyes. Maybe I was just tired, but I think it’s because I was just really touched. Because I really DO want to make a difference in this world. I know it will involve animals or converting my tiny house to solar in the future, or gardening and providing all or most of my own food. I am just getting this feeling that day by day, I’m getting closer to whatever it is I am meant to do.
I know how to research – that’s one thing I do quite well, given my current profession, but I want to be able to take that research, that insatiable wanting to learn more and actually DO something with it. Thing is, I feel like I don’t know enough about one particular thing to be able to put it into action. Or I don’t have the resources to do it and don’t know how to get started. I’ve recently begun thinking of how I can help homeless animals or injured animals and I keep coming back to one word “sanctuary.” I just don’t know how to make it work, short of adopting all of them myself, and I know that’s not realistic.
I’m not sure where I am going with all of this but it’s just been a feeling gnawing at me lately. I know I need to be patient and the next phase of my life will start soon enough. I just want to make a REAL difference in the world.
Does anyone else out there feel like this, now or in the past? If so, please drop me a line. Hell, drop me a line if anything in this post touched you. And thank you for reading.