I love nature. That’s easy.
Does nature love me back? That’s trickier.
I know that humanity has hurt nature by releasing fossil fuels, creating toxic chemicals and clear cutting ancient forests. Humans have done immense damage to the earth, but does that mean nature doesn’t love me?
Nah. I believe that nature is forgiving. Nature loves me back. She wants me to eat and to give me a roof over my head. That's why nature continues to give me what I need. She feeds the whole world every day through her love.
But I do think humanity needs to drastically improve how we treat nature. She will continue to love us, she will continue to give us what we need as long as she possibly can, but she's screaming for us to give her the respect she deserves. Climate change, ocean acidification, and species extinction are just few of the ways she's communicating that she's not happy. She's being abused.
She still loves us, but we need to treat her better.
So if I love nature and nature loves me, then we are in a relationship. Similar to the relationship I have with my husband, it’s a give and take. It’s reciprocal. He needs me, and I need him. We compliment each other and (on our good days) we make each other stronger.
In my marriage, we are constantly looking for ways to improve. What we’ve found is that we need four things. The first of course is love. Love is the core. But just as nature loves us and we love her back, love is not always enough.
We can choose to feed that love or starve it.
Which brings us to awareness. My husband and I have had to learn each other's strengths and weaknesses, our personalities and love languages. The more aware we are, the better we do. When we forget, we fight. Our feelings get hurt. We start to drift apart.
So we have to communicate. We have to talk about what’s working and what’s not. I have to be open and vulnerable (not something that comes easy for me). I have to tell him when my feelings get hurt and when he’s pushing my buttons. This is hard. We don’t always do this well! It’s a work in progress. We’ve stopped expecting perfection.
Sometimes you have to get creative. With two kids and a dog and busy schedules, we have to be creative to stay connected. For us, it means date nights at home after the kids have gone to sleep. Hiking instead of going out to dinner. Sometimes it means plopping the kids in front of a show on a Tuesday night and opening a bottle of wine so we can catch up. Hey, it’s not a movie romance. It’s real life.
Our relationship with nature requires the same continuous cycle. Love is the core and goes both ways. Awareness, communication, and creativity are what we need to keep the relationship healthy.
Awareness is essential to nature conservation
We need to be aware of what’s happening before we can change. A simple example is palm oil. Palm oil is in almost all processed foods and a lot of skincare products. Ancient forests are slashed and burned to make room for oil palm trees. When these forests burn, orangutans are killed or made homeless. Carbon is released from the ancient trees that are cleared.
Palm oil is nowhere near sustainable yet, but consumer awareness has made an impact. Companies like Unilever and Nutella have made serious commitments to buying sustainably sourced palm oil. The more consumers are aware of the problems with palm oil, the more pressure there is for big brands to buy from sustainably certified companies.
We Are All Creative
Creativity is the most important gift we have for developing solutions to every problem related to conservation and even our health. My daughter has a food sensitivity to egg whites, so I needed to figure out how to bake without eggs. I told a friend who sent me a link to ChocolateCoveredKatie.com. Well, that Katie is one creative lady! She has revolutionized baking and created something way better than the original.
She has recipes for all kinds of dietary restrictions. Mostly plant based recipes that are truly delicious and even healthy. Now I can’t even imagine why I’d make regular sugar and fat filled brownies when I could make healthy and scrumptious black bean brownies. They’re way tastier and full of fiber and nutrients.
A Mindset For A Better Future
This brings me back to conservation and changing the way we think about nature and the world we live in. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck describes how we either believe that our intelligence and abilities are a.) pre-set from birth and can't be improved much or b.) that they can be developed and improved. I believe that our minds and bodies have a broad capability for improvement (or destruction). We can apply the same concept to conservation.
Do you believe the way things are today must stay the same tomorrow? Or, do you believe we have the ability to improve the way we live and also help nature?
I believe we all have the ability to improve the way we live and at the same time, we can help nature. So nature needs us just as much as we need nature. We can be part of the solution or part of the problem. Through awareness, communication, creativity, and love I can develop a better relationship with my husband, just as I can develop a healthier relationship with nature.
I love nature and nature loves me. I just need to keep learning how to treat her better. The better I treat her the better she will treat me. I know our relationship can be greatly improved.