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Opinion: Positive thinking – naive or necessary?

Submitted by on June 10, 2013 – 9:13 am
By Rebecca Toon

By Rebecca Toon

I was sinking beneath a tsunami of emails about multinational corporations taking over our seed supply. Every day I’d sit down at my desk and prepare to do battle with the delete key. Still the headlines tore at my heart as I learned of farmers who were being sued for saving seeds, weeds that were adapting to herbicides and becoming more aggressive, and people in far away laboratories who were making great headway with toad genes.

Just outside my window organic lavender plants shifted in the breeze. The sun beat down on rows of lush green kale. A friend stalked past with a wheel barrow of sea-grass he needed to put down before lunch.

The science of genetic engineering threatened to enter the New Zealand food supply and I wondered how could it be that this world in my inbox, this crazy world of disconnection from the very earth that sustained these people, could be threatening mine. I wondered why people weren’t fighting this, en mass. But it turned out they were.

And so I joined them.

I wrote and protested and signed petitions and talked about the stupidity of messing with our old seeds and still the news flew faster and faster into my inbox.

Around the world people fought, and yelled and mobilized. Still the earth pulsed strong beneath my feet and the air kissed my face as I walked through the community organic gardens to my office each morning.

And I began to feel tired. Overwhelmed crept in and stole my confidence. Grief, at the thought of what could be, arrived with all its suitcases, and settled deep inside.

And so one day, I ran away from my inbox.

I traveled north, to walk with hundreds of others, carrying New Zealand’s old seeds from Cape Reinga to the heart of the land, Lake Taupo. And as I put one foot in front of the other, new messages found me.

“Don’t be afraid of the words in your heart and you will shape the future of this land, be strong and brave,” said the elders, from all countries of the world, as they watched the younger generations walk south.

“You think you can sort this out with your intellect do you? Listen deeper, listen closer, there’s more than that,” said one of them to me as I tried to decipher what was happening to me.

Gradually the overwhelment lifted and the grief dissolved as I realised there was one thing I could do for the planet: I could listen to my deepest self.

And so I started to trust the exciting, creative ideas that were forging into my mind and heart. I wrote songs and sang them to inspire people to do the same. I wrote about, gathered and shared the quiet stories of hope about organic weed control, and sustainable building design, communities nurturing their life giving waterways, with people who needed them.

I worked at being happy, because I knew the alternative would immobilize me. I nurtured my mind with encouraging, positive thoughts and images because I knew they’d inspire me through my days.

I left that inbox behind, there are probably millions of messages in it by now.  I got new one and everyday stories of success and innovation about the planet and our communities fill it up to capacity.  These days I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.

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