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  • Writer's pictureAmy Perez

Earth Day Manifesto

There's a small wooden plank that sits on the window's ledge above my kitchen sink. Thick enough to stand on its own, it balances in front of a glass pane that opens to hearty green bushes and a blue Hawaiian sky. The sign reads, "Earth Day Every Day," and I smile when I read it because I know that nothing could be truer.

April 22 is Earth Day, a day to celebrate our planet - a great rock in the middle of space that supports life of all shapes and sizes. As far as we've searched in our solar system and beyond, we know that Earth is special and is certainly something to be celebrated.

Our planet sits at the perfect distance from the sun - not too close and not too far - to create atmospheric conditions that can sustain life as we know it. I've never understood why people are so eager to abandon this planet for another, like say, Mars. Elon Musk himself has shared that those who travel to Mars (because they certainly will one day) will likely be miserable in the process. They'll live inside closed capsules and space suits unable to feel a fresh breeze or the warmth of the sun against their skin. I understand the value of colonizing other planets, that's not what I'm saying. What I mean is, if you had the choice, why would you want to live anywhere else except on Earth?

Long before modern advances made it possible for us to live comfortably behind four walls, humans were born into nature and lived as one with it for thousands of years. We walked in forests with our friends, and spent hours picking berries or hunting deer. Modern advances have made life easier for us, and humans are certainly living longer, but it has not erased what is primal in the deepest part of our brains.

For all our intelligence and technological communication, our brains still speak the language of nature. You can experience it for yourself. Go outside and take a walk. Better yet, find a trail in the woods and meander through it. The trees and the birds and the green and the blue have a harmonizing effect on our brains, making us calmer and more at peace. There's science to prove the effect that nature has on reducing stress and anxiety and on alleviating depression - a depression that we often bring upon ourselves. Outside the core meaning of life - friendships, family, creativity, and peace - we still have so many desires.

I recently read a book about a man who lived outside in a tent for 35 years, separated from society but surrounded by nature. Granted, he had to break into homes to steal food (literally like chicken strips and jars of peanut butter, while ignoring expensive jewelry and fancy electronics). The point is that, beyond food and shelter (yes, he stole the tent too), he wanted for little other than to be at peace in nature. Think about the things you want. Does it include a new car, a big house, and a better job to afford these things? Possessions are of course wonderful, but are they always worth the cost? And I'm not talking about money, rather, I'm talking about the most expensive commodity in the world - your time.

Rather than buy a new car, could you be content to drive your beater? If so, you could decide to take your family on a sunset picnic because now you don't need to work those extra hours to afford a Tesla. Rather than splurge on a luxury house, could you embrace your modest home? Then perhaps you could afford to travel the world. I don't mean to oversimplify the issue, but it really is a matter of perspective. What's important to you? What kind of life do you want to live?

In all my travels and in all my (38) years, this is what our planet has inspired within me - Earth and our happiness are one in the same. And yet, somehow, we've allowed society (and monster corporations) to tell us otherwise. But let this be a reminder to you - possessions are not the secret to happiness, your time is.

So this Earth Day, I hope you will think about what holds true value. Think about how lucky you are to live and breathe and exist on this small rock in the middle of our enormous galaxy with the people you love. Every day is a miracle, so let a tree remind you to slow down, and let a butterfly remind you to be at peace. When you go to bed at night, give thanks for your life and the many blessings in it. And then when you wake up, do it all over again, because every day is Earth Day.

This photo of me and my daughter was taken by my husband, CP, during one of our many magical sunsets together. On this particular day in April 2022, we were at Kaena Point on Oahu, Hawaii.


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