Is this sky suppose to be orange right now?

belonging, breathe, connection -

Is this sky suppose to be orange right now?

At one point last Wednesday, New York City, with its jaundiced sepia-toned haze, had the worst air quality in the world due to wind conditions and the Canadian wildfires.  

It was scary until it wasn't.

We woke to cleaner air on Friday, removed our masks, and breathed freely. Life was good, but the index is rising again to moderately unsafe levels as I write this.  
Climate experts say we should buckle up because this will reoccur until we properly care for Mama Earth.
You would like to think this experience would drum up some empathy for those in the West or in countries like Australia where wildfires are a part of life or those who have no options but to work outside or those living in marginalized communities who constantly breathe unhealthy air from chemical, oil, and other polluting industries. Many people did, no doubt, but I feel that most have moved on faster than a New York minute.

With mindfulness, there's a belief "that this moment too shall pass." That is, every moment is temporary; life is ephemeral. I've said it myself. Heck, there's an image meme on my app with this saying that people can share. 

But the notion isn't totally complete. 

Yes, we move from moment to moment. Hence, the invitation to be present, but within each moment, ripples start rippling, and they can travel far and wide. Some are beautiful; others are less so. 

For example, if you've ever been on a receiving end of a hurtful comment, you know it's not easily forgotten. It's hard to let it go at first, and how it makes you feel ripples into others - just like how some things that went down in 7th grade still haunt us today - or maybe that's just me. 

Yes, the air is cleaner, but what happened back in April when the fires began created a ripple that NYC only felt last week, but over the previous six weeks, it was the source of unhealthy air for millions. Those fires are still burning, the smoke is still traveling, and Mother Nature is still hurting today even though Gotham isn't feeling it. 

We all breathe the same air. 

We welcome the world with our first breath, and it's the last thing we do when we pass. In between, we can easily take our breath for granted because we don't have to think about breathing. It just happens, but after going through the pandemic that targeted lungs or witnessing a no-bueno orange afternoon sky, we may realize how precious our breath is.

Air quality is a problem that can't be solved by individual actions alone and can feel overwhelming, but that shouldn't stop us from taking action and improving something that we all depend on to perform at our best. 

Forget about morning routines, juice detox cleanses, and self-help hacks, we need clean air, or those don't work.


We can also accept that buying carbon credits and recycling plastic might help ease our guilt, but they don't make much of a difference. On the other hand, being thoughtful about air travel, using renewable electricity, and eating a mostly plant-based diet can create a healing ripple. 

To paraphrase Churchill, never let an apocalyptic (the word I heard most frequently last week) crisis go to waste.

We think last week was crazy and keep doing what we've been doing, or we start with a small step, like eating more plants, and create a ripple to help Mama Earth and all creatures (including us) breathe better.


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