Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Happy together - invironmental activism..."

"Happy together,
so happy together,
we're happy together..."

So what connection can there possibly be, between a 1960's anti-littering campaign, and a pop song about shared happiness. A lot...I am learning.

The Turtles, "
Happy Together" seems, on the surface, to have little to do with the health of our environment, other than the memories it evokes for me. Fond memories of singing at the top of our lungs, with our parents, to songs on the car radio, during road trips. But memories from those road trips also include Lady Bird Johnson’s (wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson) campaign to beautify America by bringing attention to, and the consequences of, littering.

Her “every litter bit hurts,” campaign was ubiquitous in the 60s and 70s. It served as a reminder to anyone who lived through those decades, that America’s highways and byways were ours. Ours to use, and to enjoy. But most of all, ours to keep clean.

In fact, in 1968, when our family of eight traveled over 5,000 miles one summer by station wagon, it was the “every litter bit hurts” jingle, as well as the haunting public service advertisement images of a
weeping Native American on horseback, that played right alongside my parents’ admonition to pick up "just one more" additional piece of litter at every rest stop. In doing so, they assured us, we would each be doing our part to keeping America beautiful.

I’ve actually been thinking alot about that trip in the last few months. I’m humbled by my parents’ youthful urgency in engaging their young family in a national campaign to do whatever we could to make a difference. Just thinking about these two...suburban 30-somethings, with six, of their eventual eight children, in tow...on an environmental mission, makes me so proud of them.

They knew they could make a difference...that we could all make a coke bottle, or candy wrapper, at a time.

So, here we are 44 years later, and my husband is on an anti-littering campaign of his own. And it’s one that I’m committed to joining him in, as a radical invironmentalist.

He is on high alert for mental litter, and littering. He is constantly digging through the mental underbrush, and clearing out the sharp shards of whatever is not beautiful, useful, or contributing something of value to a shared landscape. He has thrown away mindless chatter, and can usually be found nurturing a Thoreau-like silence where deep listening thrives.

He is vigilant in watching that he doesn’t drop wasted words on shared moments of quiet, or discardable emotions on another’s peace. His efforts to recycle his insights, within, before sharing them with others is inspiring.

I am so grateful for his example of invironmental activism. It makes such a difference in our home.

And it has made me, in hindsight, so humbly appreciative of that radical young couple, my parents, who were willing to encourage us, as children, to begin taking responsibility for the beautiful landscape we loved.

It makes a difference in all the spaces we share with others -- on the road, in our homes, marriages...and especially within.

Rainer Maria Rilke once wrote:

“I hold this to be the highest task
for a bond between two people:
that each protects the solitude of the other.”

Jeff does this for me. His anti-littering campaign is such pure loving. It fills my life...and the lives of others with whom he lives, and works, and prays...the freedom to listen deeply. And in this space, this shared landscape of our marriage, we are truly, happy together.

with Love,

[photo credit: Jeff next to his favorite outer landscape, Long Lake at Camps Newfound/Owatonna by Sandi Stricklin 2011 ]

1 comment:

  1. Love this! What a great reminder to stand porter...

    Thanks for being you! You always inspire me. <3