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I. Living within a consumerist system: how capitalism tells us what we need and starves us.

We are fed so many lies within this system. Lies about our worth as equated to our income and our buying power. Lies about how this or that thing will fill up the gap inside us. Lies about the “green-ness” of said new product. Obfuscation around what it cost our Earth to produce said product.

I see consumption as symptomatic of the gaping wounds in our culture - often we shop and consume to fill up the holes within us. All addictions - “I need a new thingy for my machine, a coffee, a hit, a pill, a drink, a cigarette, to get laid" - are mechanisms for not feeling the feelings.

I see that the Earth is being possibly irreparably damaged by our drive to fill up the holes inside us - coffee, shopping, drugs of various kinds, fuel and power for our distraction machines - these are all things that we use to not be in our lives as they are happening.

I have grief here that I'm probably not entirely aware of because it just hurts so much. Most of us do. I'm not sure what to do with it beyond trying to be with it as much as I am possibly able and keep doing my own work and helping others to connect more deeply with themselves.

Hurt people can't connect with their body or the Earth, and we’ve all heard that hurt people hurt people.

When we are aching, we use what we can to help ourselves feel better, where better means more connected, more alive, more human. Or, if we are carrying too much pain, better could mean dulling the pain and disconnecting even more.

For my whole growing up, my mom worked full time and was really, really busy doing work and home. We used to go shopping together, often with my sister too, but sometimes just my mom and I. I’m guessing I was depressed in that way that we are now calling “high functioning depression”. Only I didn’t know it. What I did eventually noticed was that I would invent something that I needed so that I could get some one-on-one shopping time with my mom. I didn't know, as a kid and as a teenager, that this was what I was doing. I just wanted my mom. The things that we ended up buying were almost always unsatisfactory, since what I was craving had nothing to do with the thing and everything to do with connecting with my mom.

Later we just started walking the dog together. This was much more satisfying, and the dog lost weight.

Instead of consuming and running our usual modes of addiction/avoidance, I tell people to go for a walk. These walks have really specific instructions: - walk alone: no people, no talk, maybe a dog if you have one - take zero devices with you - do no errands. This walk is a walk to ground your senses in the actual Earth that you live on, so notice the shapes of the leaves on the trees, the patterns in the pavement, the sounds around you, how other people move through the world.

Walking like this is really, really hard because it is not lifting us out of our life and body and senses and feelings, but inviting us in deeper. With this as our basic practice, we are harder prey for the capitalist system. We are more grounded in our body and our life. We can genuinely just go for a walk.

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