As humans, we go to work or school, go grocery shopping, run errands, take care of family and otherwise live life. Our world can easily shrink to the size of our city, town, or neighborhood. We can easily find ourselves living in a world full of asphalt, concrete, buildings and cars for months, years, or even a lifetime.
With over 7 billion people on Earth, it takes a concerted effort to find yourself in a pristine world beyond the asphalt and concrete – a place of wilderness, away from all the distractions of modern life. If you have ever found yourself in a wilderness area, you are lucky and you probably know how rejuvenating it can be to reconnect with yourself, breathe the crisp air, notice the silence, and tune into the rhythm of nature. It is an amazing feeling to experience the planet the way it has been for eons – untouched, beautiful, and grounding.
In the moments that I have made time to get outside, I have always been awestruck by the effortless beauty of nature. When I learn about the complex web of symbiotic relationships among species, I fall deeper in love with our planet. My most love-struck moments have not been on land; they have been on the ocean.
With scuba gear, I can experience this vast oceanic wilderness weightless, rising and falling with my breath, hearing only my breath, bubbles and sometimes the faint grinding sound of fish biting off bits of coral. The abundance of life in protected underwater wildlife preserves is amazing. I once saw a field of sand dollars. Not the ones you find on the beach – these sand dollars were clearly alive with surprisingly purple skin. There were at least 300 of them synchronized at a 45-degree angle with their mouths facing against the current, one third of their bodies in the sand and optimized for feeding. I realized that up until then, I had only seen dead sand dollars. To see them alive, in a colony, and seemingly thriving left me awestruck and love-struck by the effortless intelligence they expressed. I feel energized when I see beautiful and thriving species – the unbelievable interconnectedness of our world is on display and I deeply want to protect these places from being tainted, degraded or put in harm’s way.
I volunteered to sail with The 5 Gyres Institute on their Sea Change Expedition because these beautiful places are in harm’s way. I wanted to join a passionate crew to further the research and help bring attention to the growing threat of plastic pollution. As we sailed across the vast wilderness of the North Atlantic Gyre, I was excited to unplug from the distractions of daily life and reconnect with the rhythm of our beautiful planet.
Unfortunately, this once pristine wilderness, along with the rest of our oceans, is becoming increasingly polluted with toxic plastic confetti. This is not new. Even though most of us are not intentionally throwing our trash in the ocean, all water on Earth eventually travels to the ocean awash with the remnants of our throwaway society. How long can we tolerate the slow and progressive destruction of a place we love? Once destroyed, what is left to love?
Let’s rekindle the love. When was the last time you went outside away from the asphalt and concrete to find a piece of nature to love? Perhaps it is a small piece of open space near your home, or a place you have yet to see. The world is full of places that need our love now more than ever. Now go and get your love on and show others how to love the Earth – Love is all we need.