The green journey is really about entering a new part of the inner self; a voyage of discovery of distant lands and cultures, so to speak.
There are strange tongues and new words that hitherto you may have only heard, but now start to explore.
It's like a tram doing a large circuit of a strange city; you can get on and off at various stations, each inviting, but you can't visit every district and suburb in a week. In fact, it takes a life time, and you're still not done exploring.
Quite possibly you're still at Grand Central Station, watching the trams flashing past, and quite bewildered.
One tram has a flashing sign, and it's on the way to Solar City. Another is inviting you to global warming, and the first stop you see is simply The Melting Icepack; and yet another to Better Health.
One is inviting you to what is really a very old square simply known as Prayer and yet another is just called The Garden, and the first stop beckoning is called Permaculture, and the second Sustainability and yet a third Nitrogen Fixing.
Endless trams continue to intrigue and frighten you; where will it lead you, if you dare to step on one of them? Yet another of life's cul de sacs, or will one of these bring meaning and fulfillment?
One thing is certain; please, would someone stop the world. I want to get off; I'm so tired. Is less really more?
Yes, the green journey is a voyage within, and many, even most, never make it. It all sounds so difficult, like climbing Everest, or sailing the North West passage. Yet, to your surprise, you see hundreds of people stepping onto this tram or that; they are obviously familiar with the scene at Grand Central Station, and quite unphased by the throngs jumping on and off.
They've already started the green journey, yet some still look very hesitant but with a push and shove, they're on board, and off the tram speeds.
Where shall I start, you think? Which tram shall I take? Don't rush, but also don't wait too long, or you may find yourself left behind. But you do want to get on the right journey to begin with; wait until you see a sign that resonates with you.
For me, it was two beacons that called. The first was, "if you don't look after your body, where are you planning to live?" That resonated; in fact it shocked me out of my reverie. And the second was, "You do want to sit one day under the trees you once planted, and watch your grandchildren grow up, don't you?"
There will be other beacons beckoning you, so you just step on the tram that's got your name on it. For me, it was the one called Better Health.
Better health and leaving behind a habitable world for our grandchildren rank high on my list of priorities; they are the first and second stops on the green journey.
Perhaps you are just sick and tired of taking so many pills. This one to do that, and another to counteract its side effects; yet another to deal with the nagging pain in the tum, or those terrible headaches. Your body aches all over, and you're only thirty-five.
Or perhaps you are deathly afraid because two of your friends have just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and your mother seems to have the early signs of senile dementia, and she's not even sixty-five.
Or your spouse has already had one heart ablation, and now he's going in for open heart surgery and you're afraid. You know you're both eating crap, and you can't stop smoking yourself, so how can you nag at him?
Mysterious, elusive, better health lurks, seemingly on the horizon, and then, bingo, a tram rumbles into the station, and it's got your name on it; it's called the green journey.
Solar city is a stop you'll find at our green home; there is oodles of free sunshine just waiting to be collected, stored and used.
Suddenly, inexplicably, a smoke stack pouring carbon dioxide and other noxious smelling gases into the atmosphere has invaded your mind's eye. You can't escape it; we are poisoning our world by burning fossil fuels.
You've been carefully looking the other way, desperately, but still that smoke stack... and then someone posts you an email showing the melting icepack, and you realise it's for real. And you look at your grandchildren, and guilt smites; what legacy are you leaving them?
No longer can you evade it, and you start to make inquiries. Could your second vehicle be battery operated? Is it safe? Do they break down? How far can they go? And could I stomach those ugly solar panels on my roof to energise my home, and my electric car? Instead of going on that cruise to Alaska this year, should we instead visit Solar City?
You choose your own personalised voyage; make the green journey your own.
Healthy choice foods are half the journey to a quality, long life. They are a top destination at Bernard Preston's travel bureau to the green journey.
There's one place that's really nagging; granny and gramps were such serene people and you have memories of walking with them down into the secret garden. There she grew such beautiful flowering shrubs and a host of choice healthy foods, and he was always busy with his compost piles and fruit trees, and his bee hives.
They both lived to their upper eighties, and you have a fear that neither of you are going to make it to seventy; perhaps not even sixty if that bypass doesn't go well.
But it's the little poem that granny had stitched and framed next to her bedside that really get's under your skin.
"When the world wearies, and society ceases to satisfy, there's always the garden."
wearisome the world is, and how the superficiality of friends and
family so often seems. Can I really give up watching so much TV, and
just play bridge once a week, and get stuck into the garden? Would it
bring me Granny's serenity. Would all that organic food really cure me
of all that ails me? Do I really want to start the green journey? My own one?
What would it do to my back? Would it mean umpteen more visits to the chiropractor? Could I really do those exercises he's been nagging me to do all these years, but I really couldn't be bothered. He keeps saying, 'but they only take two minutes every morning before getting out of bed.' Even so, it's bad enough making time to brush and floss your teeth. Could I find another two minutes? I'm so busy, so rushed, I just don't have the time.
"Actually, you do," chimes Jiminy Cricket. "You just have to change your priorities."
Shall I take The Garden tram? The first station is Growing Swiss Chard. Yes, I think I will. Maybe tomorrow I'll buy some seeds.
In far more profound terms, Joanna Macy's version of the green journey, is about opening our hearts and very selves to the natural world; she calls it the greening of the self. It's only now beginning to filter through how homeless we would feel and, in fact, are beginning to feel, as we ruin our world.
The fact that there will soon be more plastic in the sea than fish, and those crossing the Pacific describe it as dead, seems remote. But when ten dead sperm whales are washed up on our shores, their bellies filled with plastic, we begin to grasp the severity of it all. What kind of an inheritance are we leaving to our grandchildren, or is that a topic far too painful to consider?
If each of us began with just one tiny thing; it would make a tremendous difference, a first step. Recycle a beer can, not drop a battery in the garbage, plant a bee-friendly legume, decide never again to purchase an incandescent light bulb, and recycle some plastic.
Greening of the self is a great concept; we are beginning to realize that the world is our body; the Amazon jungle and the oceans are my lungs.
Lonely Road of Faith
» The Green Journey
Bernard Preston's green journey through the polders of Holland might interest you; it's only available as an ebook on your tablet or Kindle.
The green journey is just waiting for you; like Pilgrim's Progress there are pitfalls along the way. That's what makes it fun.