Who I Listen To

This morning I woke up feeling very pessimistic about the future of humankind. It happens sometimes. The road-widening plan (that I wrote about in my previous post) had me feeling down. And I just wasn’t quite feeling up to calling or emailing FDOT with my comments quite yet.

So instead, I called people who helped me cheer up. And I noticed which kinds of people I call when I need a shot in the arm.

There are pessimistic people who are not taking action. I never call those folks when I need a boost.

There are optimistic people who aren’t taking action. I don’t call them either, because I don’t want to be boosted into la-la happy denial land. I want to be boosted back into the land of willingness to take action.

And that brings me to the group who are my favorite to talk with when I need a boost: optimistic people who are taking action. I chatted with a couple of those friends/fellow civic activists, and felt miraculously cured of my sour somber sluggishness.

Finally, there are people who are pessimistic but are nonetheless taking action. I find those folks somewhat rare, as, in my experience, people who are taking action tend to be at least somewhat optimistic. This other subset of people does exist, though. And despite their pessimism, I can still get a boost from talking with them because they are, after all, taking action.

I really do get the most out of talking with my “optimist and taking action” friends, though, when I need a boost.

When I’m feeling centered, I sometimes reach out to the “pessimist taking no action” people, and invite them to join me in taking action. Or just encourage them to explore other viewpoints. They don’t always join me, and they’re not always willing to explore other viewpoints. But sometimes they do, and they get a boost. Circle of life! We can all be each other’s battery chargers.

On the topic of getting a shot in the arm from action-taking optimists … As it happens, I’ve just finished reading Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach To Conservation that Starts in Your Yard. This book is by Douglas Tallamy, an entomologist and ecosystems-restoration advocate who’s been getting a lot of press lately for encouraging people to “re-wild” their outdoor spaces. He’s a great writer; really knows his stuff and communicates deep joy and enthusiasm in his mission. He’s really optimistic and he’s taking action.

While I was reading his book, I felt gloomy at times, because the facts in the book paint a really dire picture in intricate detail. As just one example, I never knew that caterpillars, whose numbers have declined to a fraction of healthy-ecosystem levels, are such an essential food source for birds. It seems hopeless! But then I thought: Wait a minute! Here’s a guy who’s extremely knowledgeable about the problem. And he is very optimistic about our ability to fix it! The answer came to me: “Listen to the scientist who knows his facts and speaks with passion! Allow yourself to be optimistic! And keep on taking the actions he recommends!”

This morning I did a bit of relaxing work with scissors in my garden. I’m cutting back some nonnatives I planted when I first moved into this house. I’m making room for natives I’ve planted more recently (as I’ve continued to expand my native-plant knowledge), that have started to really take off and get big. Halleluiah!

I also signed up for a webinar that appeared in my Facebook feed this morning. “Communicating Insect-Friendly Landscape Value To Your Clients.” Organized by Florida Association of Native Nurseries; happening October 23 from 3:30-4:30pm EST. “Insects matter. Learn to educate your clients and others about the value of protecting insects through ecological landscaping practices. For landscape architects, landscape designers/installers, maintenance companies and estate horticulturists.” (I’d suggest it for educators, activists, and government officials also!)