The Amazon rainforest is burning. And with it, up to 20% of the earth’s oxygen source could go up in toxic smoke. Just like that.
Anyone with common sense who also appreciates life (of any kind) on this planet understands the magnitude of the environmental crisis at hand. Unfortunately, most of us feel completely powerless to do anything meaningful about it.
But what if we look at these wildfires as a reflection of what’s happening in our own personal lives? In other words, what if there is something deeper about this environmental crisis that we, as human beings, desperately need to understand… not only in order to avoid mass extinction on earth, but in order to feel any sense of control and peace in our daily lives again?
Whenever a world event occurs that feels utterly overwhelming to me, I like to play a game where I try to come up with a metaphor that will empower me to take some sort of meaningful action in my own life. Ideally, this action will be designed to improve my own mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. I find that the simple act of taking a meaningful action in response to an event or tragedy I can’t control helps me feel much less overwhelmed. So, what metaphor did I come up with in regard to the Amazon wildfires?
Too many of us are allowing our most precious and indispensable personal gifts to be snuffed out.
The Amazon rainforest, in all of its amazing glory, is not just a gift to Brazil (which is where it physically exists). The Amazon is a life-giving force for the entire planet. We know this because science has confirmed it. But what if the same inter-connectedness is true for the unique and special gifts each and every one of us are born with? Just think how much different our world would be if influential people like Christopher Columbus, Sir Isaac Newton, Picasso, Ann Frank, Sitting Bull, Abraham Lincoln, Neil Armstrong, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Walter Cronkite, Ghandi, Robin Williams, Oprah, Steve Jobs, Brene Brown and countless other leaders across the globe had not tended to the forest of their own unique gifts! In other words, what if these amazing individuals had let themselves become too overwhelmed, distracted, angry or afraid to summon the courage needed to embrace their greatest gifts during times of incredible challenge?
Each one of us, just like every single living organism in the rainforest, is born with the capacity to positively impact the world. Unfortunately, too often, instead of unleashing our internal light to shine brightest when it’s most needed, we hide from our gifts. But when a person’s gifts go unused, their internal light gets dimmed and, eventually, snuffed out. They then become tinder that can be used to fuel the world’s destructive wildfires, which ultimately threaten to suffocate the very soul of humanity. What’s happening in the Amazon now is nothing more than an outward manifestation of the crisis we’re already fueling in our everyday lives.
I honestly don’t know if there’s still time to save our planet. But I choose to believe there is. What I do know is that solving today’s problems will require all of us using all of our gifts. This means making an active decision today to carefully and intentionally tend the internal forest that houses our greatest gifts!
We must clear out the underbrush that’s complicating the landscape of our minds and hearts, so we can see our own, and one another’s, gifts more clearly. Tending the forest also means working collaboratively with others to strategically set and manage controlled burns that will vanquish the invasive weeds and vines of our collective self-doubt, fear and insecurity. It means building fences around our egos (and destructive appetites) to ensure we never lose sight of the forest-of-gifts due to the allure of a neighbor’s fruit-bearing trees. And it means cleaning up the dried twigs and branches of our false-starts, failures and mistakes, so we can use them strategically to fuel the fire of purpose and progress into a colossal blaze of meaningful action and inspiration throughout the world.
The change we so desperately want to see will never start happening until more of us take personal responsibility for tending the part of the forest that houses our specific gifts. I realize that in the face of threats the size of what’s happening in the Amazon, it can seem pointless or irresponsible to turn our attention inward. But to let ourselves get bogged down by fear, sadness, anger or despair will only distract us from the important work of cultivating our own gifts into tangible ideas and creative expressions of love, healing and purpose that might actually lead us all to a better tomorrow.
If what I’ve said here resonates for you, if it inspires you to take one action today to begin tending your own personal forest of gifts, then together we HAVE done something meaningful in response to the Amazon fires. And if you are someone who would like support in exploring your personal forest and tending to your gifts, I invite you to join The Kinship of the Herd. The world needs your light!
Kim Hallin is the founder and lead facilitator at Unbridled, LLC, a unique experiential learning program in South Carolina that brings horses and humans together to heal together.