Leaving the Rule Book on the Floor

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.

– Jalāl al-Dīn Rūmī 

In motorsports we work in the grey areas a lot.  You’re trying to find where the holes are in the rule book.

– Danica Patrick


My guess and my hope is that there are more Eco-chaplains out there.

– Lauren Van Ham, Renewing Ceremony (2007)

 When the solution is simple, God is answering.

-Albert Einstein

Last week, in session with a holistic therapist, I was challenged on a few life practices I’ve not once questioned:  I mentioned the loyalty I felt to my Ordination vows, the dedication I put into creating harmonious relationships, and the gratitude I feel for the amazing parenting efforts of my Mom.  And the therapist said,

“Sounds like a lot of rules….”

Whoa.  Lying on the table, my eyes closed, I crept my Ego over to this new point of view…and I took a look.  “What’s happening?” questioned the therapist.  Stifling a shriek and feeling my heart fight to remain in my chest, I said, “I feel like the etiquette book just fell on the floor.”

Has anyone seen the etiquette book, please?

Has anyone seen the etiquette book, please?

There is no Rule Book.  In my life I have so often wanted one, that I create them.  Continuously.  Consciously and unconsciously.  It’s ok; you can say it!  I’ve known for a long time now that I’m a late bloomer.  Nevertheless, at the ripe age of 41, my world is rocking with this ancient, duh!, love-it-or-hate-it-but-you-can’t-change-it realization.  There is no Rule Book.

At first breath, this scares the bee-jeebies out of me.  I mean, c’mon, there are a few things I can count on, right?  Well yes…sort of.  And sort of not.

So, I take a deeeeep breath.  Then I remember (because I keep forgetting and re-remembering) that I wasn’t put here with some expectation to figure it out, or hold it together, or for that matter, to live out any specific agenda at all.  Zoiks!

How freeing is that?  I mean, wow!  When we look around, it’s abundantly clear there are a lot of ways to live a life.  This sacred, miraculous, mammalian, fragile, resilient life of ours….

Flash to Danica Patrick.  Ummm, did the Eco-chaplain really include a quote from Danica Patrick in her blog intro?  She did  (no rules).  [note: it is ok if you’re learning right now that Danica Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel (car) racing.]  Without a rule book, Danica has made some pretty lively choices.

And then there’s Albert Einstein.  Choices made by Albert in his rule-free life help me to see the Great Web that holds us, a web of which we’re all a part.

And in these intricately woven threads of existence are all the rules and the not-rules.  Some (me, Albert, you?) might call it God(dess).

Photo: Thanks to Rose & Clint

Photo: Thanks to Rose & Clint

And there’s me, Lauren, who for lack of a better name, refers to her life’s work as, Eco-chaplaincy.  Please tell me if you relate to this: when I get too tied- up (attached?) in the importance of what I’m doing, my choices begin to take the form of an agenda, a series of rules.  When I can dial that all back, though, when I remember first simply to live, then going about making choices feels more like, “Dungeons & Dragons,” a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Look at these Berkeley residents, for example, creating some night-time folly and activism outside the City Council meeting last week,   "Save our P.O" (Post Office is threatening to close)

Look at these Berkeley residents, for example, creating some night-time folly and activism outside the City Council meeting last week, “Save our P.O” (Post Office is threatening to close)

From this place, I experience a wellspring of support.  It’s the Source from which I feel inspired to move, and to learn, and to love…with no guarantee of success.  When all of the other Rules have fallen to the floor, maybe this is the rule that remains.  See what I mean?  I can’t help myself….

It seems fitting to end this blog with a tribute to one of my favorite Eco-chaplains of this century.  Please enjoy

magnolia magic, while meandering UC's campus, Berkeley

Magnolia magic, UC’- Berkeley.

The Tar Sands? Let’s RE-create our Behavior

[This post belongs in a series of 7 entries written to build community and receive donations to support the Climate Ride, a 320 mile cycling pilgrimage I made in October, 2011.  Several entries focus on and celebrate the particular efforts of each of the 4 NGOs I designated to receive funds I raised for the ride.]

Happy Long Weekend!

Last Friday, I featured The East Bay Bike Coalition, a local organization doing work that’s close to my heart, in my neighborhood.  I would be remiss, this week, if I didn’t recognize 350.org, a national organization making grassroots activism an international sensation…AND whose founder,BillMcKibbenwas arrested this week while protesting the Keystone XL Tar Sands pipeline.

This week: 350.org http://www.350.org/

Their mission: 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.

Geek Treat:  To preserve our planet the way we like to live on it, scientists say we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million to below 350 ppm. Using grassroots wizardry (social media) and brilliant simplicity (people & cameras), 350.org invites change at the global level.  At the end of 2010, they coordinated a climate art project so large it had to be photographed from a satellite in outer space.  WoooHOOOOOOO!


And now… Let’s RE-create our Behavior

We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

–         AlbertEinstein

Climate Change is slow and sneaky in its signs; it doesn’t register for humans with the same urgency another crisis might.  The non-profit, 350.org invites us (YOU and ME) to create educational tools and visuals to translate the brain-bending concepts into ideas that invite behavior change. Thank you, 350!

So are we changing our behavior?  As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I’m thinking about the word, “recreation.”  It’s what we do on weekends, right?  Especially 3-day ones, that are set-aside to honor our “labors,” and take a break, no?  And while it isn’t always true, I’m struck by how often our acts of recreation are actually creation destructive (i.e., energy-intensive electronics, resource-depleting cruise trips or golf courses).  What if the word were, “RE-Creation?”  With some creative reframing (see 350.org above), can we care for Creation through our recreation?

Today marks the 13th day of a 14-day sit-in at the White House to protest the Keystone Tar Sands oil pipeline.  Since it began, over 800 people have been arrested in one of the largest environmentally-focused acts of civil disobedience in U.S. history.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/22/opinion/tar-sands-and-the-carbon-numbers.html?_r=1

And the Tar Sands?  The Alberta, Canada Tar Sands produce over 36 million tons of carbon dioxide per day, more than 1.3 million cars. Tar sands are the 2nd largest pool of carbon on earth (Saudi Arabia’s oil takes 1st)…and one of the biggest greenhouse gas offenders.  Why?  The extraction of petroleum from tar sands creates far more greenhouse emissions than conventional production does.  Currently, Canada plans to double its tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day – a rate that will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir.

To me, this is a big invitation to Re-Create and behave differently.  After all, some of the best economy-enhancing ideas we’ve had this year have been about renewable energy, green jobs and closed-loop thinking.   Tomorrow, while I’m on a training ride, getting high off the California Redwoods’ oxygen offerings, those brave, creative activists at the White House will deliver a petition asking Obama to ban this silly, uninventive pipeline idea.  If you haven’t signed yet, you have time.  Go here: http://act.350.org/sign/tar-sands/?rd=1
Thank you all so much for your support!