This morning I’ve been writing since the early hours. Lately, over the past few weeks, I’ve been craving coffee, and giving into that craving more often than I’d like. This morning as I shifted to finished one project and got ready to move onto another, I had this very familiar urge to go out and grab a cup of coffee to bring back home.
I have to: I love coffee…especially Blue Bottle coffee served here in San Francisco. I love it, but my body does not. When I operate out of habit, I drink it. When I am conscious enough to consider what I am doing to my body, I don’t. I stop myself from doing this seemingly very average thing that so many people do because I know drinking coffee makes my body feel bad.
This isn’t to say that coffee is bad or good. There are a ton of studies that have been done on coffee – some say it is helpful, some say it is harmful. I know others who love coffee and their bodies have no issues with drinking it. I am not one of them. For whatever reason, my body doesn’t like it.
So, back to this morning, I didn’t step out for that cup. Instead, I made another cup of green tea. My body breathed a sigh of relief – a subtle sigh, for sometimes the body’s indicators are somewhat subtle. I have to be paying attention. And, I know I must pay attention to my body. In fact, just before moving onto that next project, I read this quote by Paul Hawken:
No matter what we do to nature—when we cease doing it, within a nanosecond, nature starts to regenerate. And WE are nature.
In reading these words, I realized this thing I go through, trying to become much more conscious about how I treat my body, what foods I put into it and the movement I make sure it enjoys, is no different than what I must do to become more conscious of how I mistreat the earth.
Habit and habitual responses can be hard to break, especially when we are addicted to them. We may not be addicted to the substance – I don’t drink coffee enough to have a headache when I don’t – yet, we are addicted to the habitual choices, and corresponding feelings, we get from making and acting on those choices. I love stepping outside in the early morning and walking the twenty minutes or so to get my coffee. I love the café and the people in it, and in the morning I love chatting with them. I love the routine. It’s important for me to see what I love about it, because perhaps I can separate out what I love and the things that support me and my well-being from the parts of this habit that do know support my well-being.
The same is true for the habits I have, and the corresponding choices I make, that contain actions that are ultimately harmful to the earth. Can I see where my actions are causing damage to the earth? Might there be things I do habitually, things I love and enjoy but also harm my body, others, and/or the earth, that I can untangle so that the harm to my body, and to the earth ends?
Habits sometimes come down to not wanting to feel, and sometimes it’s just about habitual stuff we do because we aren’t conscious. Can I learn to do without the plethora of choice I’ve become accustomed to? Yes, of course. Absolutely. I am not, nor have I ever been, entitled to have whatever I want. That’s a big one. Just because I ‘want’ it, does not mean it is best for the whole for me to take it…whether it’s the whole of my body or the whole of life. And, who is the ‘wanter’ anyway? It seems to me, the wanter wants to want more than it wants to get. I have to admit, sometimes just getting that cup of Blue Bottle is much better than drinking it.
For me though, the big reminder here comes from Hawkins’ wisdom that life regenerates and renews, and we are life. As soon as we stop the actions that cause damage, nature begins to renew itself and our bodies do the same. Our bodies are intricately connected to the earth. The earth feeds us, supports us, and provides for us. When we nourish our bodies, we nourish her; when we nourish her, we nourish ourselves.
Habit. Awareness. Choice. It’s in my hands. It’s in your hands. It’s in our hands.