happy earth day, my loves.
i’ve spent the majority of today contemplating what it means to be a member of a larger global community. i’m mourning today. i’m mourning the continued desecration of Black lives. i’m mourning the recent deaths and continued racism against Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian siblings. i’m still so heartbroken over the fact that i felt a collective exhale (even relief) on tuesday at 5:15PM, only to be thrust back into the realities of misogynoir and police violence that plague us. the deaths of Duante Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant are all weighing heavy on me. this week has been heavy. and to think or speak or write about earth day feels superfluous. but the earth is calling out. she has so much to teach us.
i’m fortunate to have always shared my home with a variety of different species — dogs, bunnies, hamsters, fish, turtles, all varieties of plants and insects.
for most of my young life, i remember feeling very distant from nature. when we were little girls, my cousin and i would run away screaming whenever we happened upon a roach or mouse in our homes. we took pride in being “city girls,” turning our noses up at nature outings and country living. we never knew the pleasure of sticking our hands in soil, or witnessing the majesty of a butterfly emerging from its cocoon. i was content to physically distance myself from grass and trees, and found comfort in the concrete. the gray. the lifeless.
the nature that intrigued me then was the tropical. i thrived in sunshine, under palm trees, near vast beaches and rolling clouds. i always felt so invigorated when we visited my family’s motherland – Colombia. it was in Cartagena, Pereira, and Cali that i first knew the freedom and wonder of connecting with nature. one of my first memories of Colombia is from when i was about 6 years old. i was sitting in my mother’s lap as she caught up with one of her neighbors. and i was looking up at the stars for the first time in my life. i had never seen more than a handful at once, and all of a sudden there was an entire night sky bursting with starlight.
i turned to my mother and asked her if seeing all of these stars meant that we were in paradise.
this was the first time that nature filled and inspired. she hasn’t stopped since. my untrained eye began to appreciate the wonders of sunrises, of freshly planted tulips along Park Avenue in the spring.
at some point, i started more intentionally practicing love. and when i experience love, i can feel myself expanding. expanding beyond the walls of my home. when i’m in love, i want to walk endlessly. and those walks always lead me back to nature. and nature always leads me back to love.
over the years, this has looked like strolls through parks, hikes through woods and forests, walks along beaches. and i’ve found that the more connected i am with nature, the more connected i am with the people around me, and with myself.
this has been a serious challenge during the pandemic, one that we’ve been mitigating by bringing more life into our home. i’m grateful that throughout the course of my childhood, i was able to witness my grandmother caring for plants. i never truly understood their purpose beyond aesthetics until last year.
we slowly started bringing our own plants into our home, and i tried to mimic my Chaya’s lessons. many mistakes were made at first. it’s not easy to care for plants in a NYC basement apartment. i’m sad to report that some of these mistakes were irreparable. but i continued learning, and refused to give up on the little ecosystem that we were building.
cautiously, my family and i have ventured into the wild together to witness growth and blooming beyond our home. we’ve mainly restricted ourselves to NY. and then back in april, i had a whole week off from work. and i knew that if i stayed home, i would end up isolating. binge-watching reruns. and i needed to break out of that routine.
don’t get me wrong — as someone who’s neurodivergent and lives with ADHD, i LOVE my routines. but in order to live my most expansive, most brilliant life, i need to give myself room to break out of the monotony.
my beloved and i considered a lot of different places, but ultimately we decided on California for two major reasons: 1) i’ve never been to west coast/seen the pacific and 2) when E shared with me that Cali is home to the tallest and oldest trees in the world, i knew i had to visit them. and so we packed our bags and made our way to San Francisco.
it was strange to be traveling during the pandemic. and i’m still processing a lot of what we witnessed on the west coast. it was a bittersweet experience; easily one of the most important trips i’ve made in my lifetime. i’ll be touching on a lot of what i learned in future posts, but for today, i’ll be focusing on my new friends: the redwoods.
in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.john Muir
i didn’t know exactly what to expect when we drove the 90 minutes out to Muir Woods. i’ve hiked along the hudson, up by buttermilk Falls, in el yunque, in my local park. those experiences have all been satisfying in their own way. but Muir Woods is like nothing else i’ve ever experienced.
because of the pandemic, we had to book an appointment beforehand to visit the park. we were warned that slots filled up quickly, and they did, but we were able to secure a late evening appointment.as we drove along the winding hillside path to the national park, i’d ask E incessantly if every tree we passed was a famous redwood. you’ll know them when you see them. i couldn’t quite understand how tall the tallest trees in the world really could be. we finally parked the car, walked the mile to the entrance. the park wasn’t too overcrowded and we rarely ran into people along the path, which i am grateful for. because the experience was overwhelming at times. to be surrounded by so much life, by so much time and energy.
this was one of the first trees that we came across. it was love at first sight. i’m grateful that i was able to share these moments with E. as always, he was able to ground the experience in history and wisdom. this wasn’t just a walk in the park. this was transformative.
one of the first things that E said to me was: this is the closest thing we’ll know to gods. each one of these trees is over 2,000 years old. look at how much they’ve grown. think of everything they’ve witnessed.
2,000 years. 2,000 years of growing. of stretching. of nurturing. 2,000 years of witnessing. of resilience. what could these trees tell us that we don’t know? what wisdoms are they harboring deep within? can you imagine this guy as a sapling? as a seed? nature is slow, and it gets everything done.
the park is incredibly well preserved, but throughout we also witnessed trees and plantlife that had fallen over. we were told by a park employee that the trees survive all kinds of natural disasters & manmade disasters — earthquakes, fires. and life carries on. they keep climbing towards the sky.
so much of our beauty and growth and power is hidden. in the era of social media, so many of us have learned to only value surface-level beauty. it’s rare that we take the time to consider, acknowledge, appreciate everything that happens below the surface.
it’s strange to think about all of the details, the nuances and complexities, the histories that we’re missing because our days are so full. so rushed.
we’ve learned to only see with our eyes. what happens when we slow down and perceive and understand beyond what’s directly in front of us?
the redwoods shared so many lessons with me. they gently reminded me:
if you want to go fast, go alone. if you want to go far, go together.
there is no such thing as coincidences or imperfections when life is present.
when you are hurt, heal.
no matter the circumstances, nature always moves towards growth & healing. in the midst of so much trauma and harm, i believe it’s urgent that we take our cues from earth’s proclivities towards evolution.