One of my students just found the solution to global warming:
That’s right — if we were only all witches and wizards, we could just use broomsticks instead of cars. And while that wouldn’t stop all our carbon emissions, it is true that it probably would get us under the critical 350 mark.
My student is more right than she knows. Let me explain. I had a dream when I was seventeen that I could fly on a broomstick. I could control it with my mind, by thinking in different colors. When I woke up, the feeling was still in my body and I felt sure that if I went right then and tried, I could do it. But my cousins were visiting, and I got shy, and never did it. I think about it sometimes, though, and I still believe I have the latent power. It just feels very, very latent.
I was thinking about this the other day when I was bumming around on Facebook and read a musing by my friend Caitlin, who is just like Waylon Jennings.
She asked, “Is it enough to just do what makes us happy without considering a greater service to our fellow humans? Is “being happy” or “following our passion” or being “a servant of God” enough justification for the resources and we use on this planet?”
Besides guys, poetry, and breakfast, this question is pretty much all I thought about from 2004 –2008, if not longer. I was trying to come to terms with being a writer instead of an activist like all the cool kids. The thing that gave me the permission I needed to do my work was this Howard Thurman quote: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
I think that this is fundamentally different than just being happy or following our passions, because alive means feeling pain, too. It means being aware. It means changing. It means not deadening our connection to each other or the planet. I feel strongly that the more people come alive, the more capable we will be to face huge problems, because we will find within ourselves all kinds of strength we did not even know we had. We may even find we can use our minds to fly.
Solving global warming and all the rest of the list won’t take any wizards, but it will take people using every latent, living power we have. And when we are done with global warming, we can turn to another question one of my students asked another: How can you be a vegetarian, when last year you were half-vampire?
Step alive, y’all.