As Tall As the Tallest Tree

Happy Saturday everybody!

Awesome, KMIV-worthy story down below:

I was jogging through my neighborhood yesterday, and as I passed down a certain block, in the middle of it stood a tree. This tree was not only absolutely humongous, but its roots were visible, thick, and spreading over the yard like a protective parent's arms around a young child. I couldn't believe my eyes - standing before me was a tree that had probably been growing for years and years, and its body had become so intertwined with the apartment's yard that it looked as if they had become one. It was a moment that, after an exhausting nine-hour workday, simply took my breath away. 

The tree reminded me of a post I wrote a few months ago about trees that I ended up submitting to CrazySexyLife, the wonderful website of Kris Carr. If you haven't heard of Kris and her journey to plant-based wellness, definitely go and check her out now - she is one amazing lady. 

Anyway, the story is down below, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it back in June. It's not only a little bit of me being shared, but also a shout out to all of the activists out there who are trying to do good in the world - namely, YOU! Because if you are reading this blog, you have already begun your journey on the road to being an activist. And that rocks.

As Tall As the Tallest Tree
  
I love trees.

I love how tall they try to grow. 

I love how strong they are. 

How straight they stand. 

I love how their branches reach out like fingers spreading into the world.

I love how, despite a storm, or a hurricane, or a tornado, or a bout of lightening destroying and splitting one of their branches, they still remain rooted, they still stand up straight, they still spread their branched fingers. 

I love the ebb and flow of trees - how in the cold of winter, they shed their old "skin" of leaves and flowers and bare themselves so nakedly and vulnerably in the winter air for all the world to see. How their branches grow and bud into fully bloomed arms of flowers and leaves come summertime. How they allow their leaves to evolve into bright oranges, reds, browns, and yellows come autumn, opening themselves to experience another side of life, before going naked again.

I love how a tree can grow on a farm in Missouri, on a sidewalk in Brooklyn, on a sunny street in Miami, in the most remote section of the tiniest country town, on the top of the tallest mountain, or even on somebody's roof.

I love their persistence, their unyielding strength, their expansive growth, their comforting shade. 

Their peace. 

Their stillness.

As an animal activist, I try to think of myself as a tree - rooted in my belief of and hope for a better, more compassionate world. Ready at any moment to bare my animal loving soul's insights for others to see and experience. Open and willing to allow my own life's work to have an ebb and flow - to not stay so rooted that I don't spread my own branches wide into the sky with possibilities for change and evolution.  

Back in 2007, on a day like any other, my husband played for me the end of Fast Food Nation. It was the point in the film where cows in a slaughterhouse were forced onto the kill floor to be slaughtered for meat. I was an emotional wreck, my shirt soaked with tears, and I could barely control the shame and shock overcoming me, as I watched what was horrifically occurring onscreen - scared, innocent animals screaming out in fear and desperation, trying to do everything they could to save their own lives, were being violently killed for their flesh. In that moment, the lightbulb of my conscience lit up deep inside, and I knew in my heart that my life would never be the same.

I have always prided myself in being a true-blue optimist in life. But something changed when I began to learn about the horrors that exist for both the animals - and humans - in our society. We have taken and continue to take some of the most innocent, kind, and gentle creatures who exist among us and violently, selfishly exploited them. Who would want to continue living in a world openly knowing that this is what people do on a daily basis? And that by purchasing the products of these abuses, I was supporting the abuse in the first place?

If you had told me when I was in high school that I would one day be living as an ethical vegan, blogging about it, and fighting for the plight of animals everywhere, I would have looked at you like you were crazy. But life has a funny way of showing you who you really are through each and every experience you have. The experience that has defined my passion for life today was watching Fast Food Nation three years ago. I will forever hold on to that moment as the point when I learned how deeply love and compassion - for the animals of this Earth, for our environment, and for each other - is desperately needed in this world.

With Cowboy at Animal Acres.
In the few years that I've been doing this work, I've learned this much: the goal in the life of an animal activist is not only to share the information necessary for change, but to help generously bring a person to that first step of becoming enlightened. To allow that person to experience positive change firsthand, so that they can create room for change in their own lives and in others' lives. To be willing to stand nakedly in front of people with my own personal truth and experience, so that they may glean whatever necessary buds of awareness they can from what I've learned. To be willing to make this work deeply personal and deeply felt, but to also stand rooted, calm, tall, and strong when faced with opposition. To be still and listen to the animals of this world for knowledge and inspiration. To comfort others by showing them a better way, a more loving way, of existence. To find the peace and beauty in the the budding flowers and leaves amidst the chaos of factory farming, animal abuse, and the degradation of our earth. To know this deep down truth and to still want to spread my branches. This is the challenge of the animal activist, but this is also the beautiful reward. As far as this vegan blogger is concerned, I can tell you wholeheartedly that my branches are still growing, and I am far from completely rooting myself into the Earth. But when I finally do reach the point of properly balancing my own growth with the growth of so many others, when I am able to reach the point of standing naked and grounded in this mission, when I am able to reach the point of firmly knowing and staying rooted in the truth of this industry, but be open enough to branch out and evolve into a myriad of beautiful colors in spite of - and because of - that truth - then I can comfortable say that I stand as tall as the tallest tree.  And that is when the real work can begin.

Comments

Harry said…
Hi Lindsay

I've just come across your blog and this post. What you have written should well be remembered as a code of conduct for all activists: to remember our journey to where we are now, and to realise that the journey for many (?most) of us is still far from over. To stand firm in our beliefs but be gentle with others as we let them into what we know, what we have discovered. To allow others space to change and guide them to experiences that will speak far louder than our words. To be still and always to listen. To continue learning. And yes, to find peace and beauty in Nature when we feel beaten by the chaos of cruelty.

So beautifully put into words by you Lindsay - thank you.
Maya Z said…
Hey Lindsay,

This is absolutely beautiful! Thanks for being an inspiration.

All the best for north of the border!
Maya
Lindsay -- This is eloquent and beautiful!
Emily said…
Lindsay, this is such a beautiful piece of writing! What a wonderful and poetic way of expressing something that is so important for all of us vegans to remember, regardless of how involved in activism we are.
Lindsay said…
Thanks everybody - your positive, loving feedback means so much to me! :)
jmuhj said…
Wonderful post, Lindsay! And the picture is priceless. Who could look at Cowboy and not feel warm?