The dawn of 2015 came with renewed ambition to make this year even better than the last. Promises of world adventures loom, while finishing my studies is, hopefully, inevitable. However, the first few months of 2015 have been a constant struggle, and I have been asking myself why this hurdle exists. Why can’t I think beyond the overwhelming course load, my research, and all the stress in every aspect of my life?
Last year I felt something similar, this feeling I attributed to being disconnected from nature, and spent time reconnecting and reaffirming my happiness. But what I feel now is slightly different. I still feel a disconnect from nature, but I also feel a loss in my drive, my ambition, my passion for environmental causes.
This troubling fact arose after a lecture I attended just over a month ago when lecturer asked the question, “why should we care about protecting the environment for future generations? Should human beings even exist 500 years from now?”
Immediately I found myself agreeing with the statement, and it was then that I distressingly realized that I have become a pessimist about the issues I have cared deeply about.
I have always been fascinated with the environment, especially the marine ecosystems. The oceans are mysterious and mystical, but familiar; something comforting and welcoming, but unpredictable and threatening. I spent the first eight years of my life living on the sunshine coast and grew up playing on beaches, exploring tidal pools, and being out on the water. When I moved to Ontario, I missed the ocean but managed to find substitutes with the Great Lakes where we camped on vacations, and with the rivers and streams in which I ventured for my scientific research. As an avid scuba diver, I jumped at the chance to travel to the Bahamas, twice, to study the marine ecosystems.
As a 26 year-old, I have spent many years trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I bounced around numerous times before discovering that my true purpose was in using my multi-disciplinary background and different means for creativity to help solve the world’s environmental problems, and more importantly, to communicate with a broader audience about these issues. Environmental and scientific communication is my creative outlet, my raison d’être, my voice. I truly feel that sharing of collective experiences will yield creative solutions to the ever-growing changes facing the globe. For those of you that have read my previous articles know that I value communication and sharing your knowledge and expertise with broad audiences. I thrive on sharing my science and my passion.
In science you hear about thresholds - the point at which there is no longer possible to return to status quo; the system loses its ability to continue thriving. Margaret Atwood once said that “a voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.” I feel powerless, I feel like the stress has silenced me, and without my voice, my ability to share and communicate about environmental issues, I cannot thrive. In fact, it is not that I have a lack of passion about the environment - rather, I have trouble connecting with it. A great Jack Kerouac quote highlights this thought well. “My fault, my failure, is not in the passions I have, but in my lack of control of them.”
I need to get my voice back. I need to reconnect with my passion, and that stems from my connection with nature, with Vancouver, with my family and friends, and with the scientific principles and ecosystems that drew me in at a young age. I have challenged myself with three overarching goals for the upcoming spring and summer that I’ll share with you.
April: A month of deep introspection and reflection
Now that I am back on the west coast, it is a time to reconnect with the ecosystems that drew me in as a child. It is my goal to undertake a version of the David Suzuki Foundation’s 30x30 challenge from last year, and use it to visit different areas around Vancouver and the Lower Mainland to recover and think about why I care about the environment and marine ecosystems.
May and June: Two months of adventure, learning, creativity and imagination
I will be doing some world traveling for the first time in years - the perfect opportunity to throw myself into new cities and cultures. I will also spend time dusting off the right side of my brain and connecting with my creative side. I plan to accomplish this goal through photography and creative writing, and hopefully discover new and exciting environments to capture on my travels. It has also been two years since I last went scuba diving, and have promised myself to go scuba diving again.
July and August: Two months of sharing my knowledge, wisdom, experiences and hope
Once I have connected with my creative brain, I will then use that creativity to once again share knowledge, wisdom, experiences and hopes for the continued protection of the environment. I hope to contribute through written pieces and by volunteering for great causes.
Having passion and drive is vital. Mine has not disappeared - it is simply adrift. By following these steps, I am confident that I will reconnect with my love of the environmental cause. This is the push I need to make some life changing decisions about my future goals and ambitions to helping further action to protect the environment for my children and my grandchildren.
For anyone else out there who is feeling similar, or wants to find what their purpose is, I suggest following some advice I heard recently. “We should concern ourselves not so much with the pursuit of happiness, but more with the happiness of pursuit.” (Professor Coreman [Christopher Plummer], Hector and the Search for Happiness)