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How do you celebrate Earth Day?

April 23, 2010

 I remember my first Earth Day celebration vividly. Eighth grade = 13 years old, so it must have been 1981 or so  … My school was adjacent to a state university, so after school my friends and I wandered over to the big open space (lovingly known as ‘the Quad) where a huge festival was underway.

People were hanging out in between classes, groovy hippy music filled the air, and the frisbees were flying low … the cold war was still looming, so various radical protest signs were scattered here and there, which was thrilling as I recall … But what I remember most was all the sunshine and rolling around in the grass with my friends. Like puppies in that old Pepsi commerical. What was there not to love?

Fast forward almost 30 years later. The cold war has passed (sort of), I’ve grown up (kind of), and my son attends a “green” charter school here in our hippy little town in Pennsylvania. Tonight he and I took in a baseball game at the local AAA stadium and sat on the lawn seats with many of his classmates and their families. Needless to say, few people were avidly following the game. We were too caught up watching the kids wearing green tee-shirts — they all seemed to be involved in an elaborate game of tag that required darting back and forth across the lawn all night. To people sitting across the field, they probably looked like little bugs.

I suppose there isn’t much of a point ot this post except to wonder about all the days and years in between my first Earth Day memories and tonight. It’s too easy to cite pollution and overpopulation statistics, think about all the environmental damage the Earth continues to endure, all the grim forecasts of what the next generations are going to come up against … there is a lot of downer info out there, and a lot we still need to do.

But what really gives me hope is thinking about Earth Day as a birthday of sorts. By allowing myself to stop for a moment and connect with the bubbly, child-like joy that comes from feeling alive, I can try to absorb  just a fraction of the abundant beauty and love that surrounds me. And if, by some great stroke of fortune, I can carry that forward into the next day, well then I think that’s worthy of a little celebration.

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