By Olivia Rose
With improved air quality throughout the Bay Area, I am feeling grateful for the chance to escape the confines of my home, step outside and take a deep breath in. I am fueled by this gift of breath, recalling that it was only a month ago when many of us here in California experienced what it feels like to have that gift taken away. Throughout the year of 2020 more than 8,500 wildfires have consumed over 4.1 million acres of this beautiful land and all the gifts it holds, leaving tens of thousands of people displaced from their homes. To say that this is the impact of wildfire would be an understatement—this is the impact of “business as usual”. This is the impact of subjecting land and it’s people to a capitalist and colonized society. The day of the orange sky here in California is one that I hope won’t leave our collective memory for many generations to come. I encourage you to take time to mourn, to sit with what has happened here. But stay rooted in the truth that fire is transformative. My hope is that we will learn a lesson from these events, and transform in our own ways to heal, mend, and defend the rights of land, indigenous people, and their traditions.
My heart dances between aching and rejoicing in the efforts of people that keep my breath going and my body functioning. I send love and gratitude to the firefighters, especially incarcerated firefighters receiving only $1 per hour, that are putting their lives on the line to defend land that is home to so much more than the human species. Often working between 24 and 48 hour shifts, hiking into remote places, I thank you for your strength and courage, I wish you rest and healing soon. While my heart continues dancing, each day I greet and eat something picked from the land. I send gratitude to the farmworkers that continue, despite the hardships, to put food on the table not only for their own families, but for families across the country. Farmworkers are already subject to poor working and living conditions, compounded by first Covid-19, and now wildfire. If you have enjoyed something picked from that land and can afford to send more than gratitude, I urge you to do so.
As we begin the process of transformation, a lesson learned from fire, we need to recognize that we are all connected. There is not a single burden borne by one that is not felt by another. Human to human, human to another animal species, human to plants, we are all connected and a part of the beautiful creation on this planet.
To transform our relationship with each other, and land we need to breathe and lean into this truth of connection. And it starts with you. Yes you. If you’re reading this, take a deep breath, and say to yourself, “I am beautiful!”. Because you are. Each and every day there are millions of systems on this planet at work to make your life and your breath possible. And you’re a part of all of it! That is beautiful. We need to peel away from our tight, greedy grip on individualism, to see that resolution to our increasing and compounded crises lies within ourselves, each other, and the land we share. I encourage you to find a practice or a ritual in your daily (or you can start with weekly) life, no matter what age you are, to celebrate the beauty of you, to practice loving yourself. Because how can we fully appreciate and celebrate each other and this planet if we don’t start with celebrating and appreciating who we are?
So how will you tend to yourself with love? Will you be journaling for a little bit each day? Expressing your thoughts, poetry, or crafting stories. Maybe you need to move your body in a way that feels good to you, whether that’s walking, running, hiking, dancing, roller skating… Perhaps creating something is how you’d prefer to practice self-care, through painting, collaging, drawing, filming, photography…Maybe you’re needing quiet reflection through meditation, or simply to keep your body hydrated. Whatever it is, please take the time to check in with yourself, and ask yourself what do you need to feel loved by you? And do it. Because we need you in this fight.