Vegan MoFo Day 4: Serene Sunday

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”

Aesop

cupcakes

Nothing is worth more than this day.

– Goethe

There is no greatness where there is not simplicity.

– Leo Tolstoy

water

It isn’t enough to talk about peace, one must believe it.

And it isn’t enough to to believe in it, one must work for it.

– Eleanor Roosevelt

memorialday 054

harvestparty 018

Ours was never a religious family, but we did always try to get all our chores and errands done on Saturday so that Sunday could be nothing but fun and relaxation.  I’d wake up and hear the radio playing in the kitchen while my parents sipped coffee and read the mammoth newspaper; they’d set aside the comics for me when I joined them with my bowl of cereal, and together we’d waste away the early hours of the day.  That relaxing morning, so simple and short, set us up for a fantastic day of…nothing.  We’d play, we’d see a museum, we’d drive around with no destination.  No matter how we spent the day it was with nothing but pure leisure in mind.

These days I try to keep up that tradition.  Life should never be so busy that your work needs to bleed into all seven days of the week.  Maybe you need to do chores every day; that’s fine, but make one day dedicated to work you at least enjoy.  The dishes can wait another 24 hours.

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I think this philosophy translates well to animal activism too.  It seems that most of us work day and night for what we believe in, fostering dogs and feeding strays, handing out fliers and talking to friends, going to events, asking for more vegan options at restaurants and grocery stores, writing on blogs just like this one, contacting legislators, organizing demonstrations…you get the idea.  The work is never done and probably won’t be for a very very long time, and there’s so much to do to help animals that there are simply not enough activists to do it all.  As a result we often end up taking the world on our shoulders, not only adding activist work on top of our already busy schedules, but weaving it through our daily actions as well.

And it continues to add up.  Every time someone asks us what we can eat.  Every time someone hints that we are bad parents for raising our kids vegan.  Every time some misinformed person tells us we need to milk cows for their own good, and every time another unwanted bunny/chicken/pig/dog/cat/ferret is brought to the shelter and put on a euth list for being too old or not cute enough.  Each time we see another milk industry-sponsored “study” or hear about a CAFO investigation, we add it on to our lists.  We won’t stop until we can fix it.

But what happens to us?  Our hearts are in the right place, but somewhere deep down I think we all suffer from a tiny little misled belief that we can do it all.  We can’t, and our conscious mind knows it, but our inner engines keep running 24 hours a day anyway (I know I’m not the only one who has woken up at 3 a.m. and hopped online to write a letter or post something about animals).  All of the negativity, disappointment, anger and sadness we undoubtedly encounter as vegans and as activists builds up, because we are afraid to acknowledge that our work can be draining.

You heard it.  Sometimes being vegan just plain sucks.  Once in a while I just reach a tipping point where seeing one more photo of a pig makes me burst into tears.  Inevitably, we occasionally are faced with the feeling we’re running in place, because no matter how hard we work it seems we’re getting nowhere fast.  Most of us are ingrained with the fix-it gene:  when we feel this way, we stop crying and suck it up and tell ourselves we just need to work harder.  Our solution to being overwhelmed is to plunge our hands in the muck even deeper.

I’m telling you different.  Take a day off.

Reserve one day a week as your oasis.  Turn off the computer, turn off the television, hell, go somewhere where you can’t even see electronic devices, much less let them beep and yell at you all day.  Spend time with family, make yourself a nice home-cooked dinner, or if you don’t like to cook, order take-out and play board games on the living room floor.  Wear sweat pants.  Put on some David Bowie and dance around with your hairbrush.  Find something that relaxes you, rejuvenates you, makes you smile.  Find something that helps you remember you–not you-the-parent, not the whatever-you-do-for-a-job, not you-the-activist or you-the-vegan.  Under the Urban Decay makeup and organic cotton t-shirt you are still a person who needs a little time to love yourself.  For one day, forget about the world and do what you want to do, not what you need to do.  Step off the bullet train that is your life, if only for a few hours.

In the end, it’s not the sheer hours we put in for animals, or the amount of sweat and tears we shed.  It’s the heart we put into our work and our passion and compassion for animals that makes the difference.  Letting ourselves get beaten down and stressed out only makes us bitter.  We are activists because we want peace for all creatures–yes, that includes farm animals, but it also includes ourselves.

So sit down and have a cup of coffee and a cookie.  Baker’s orders.

all photos from personal collection; please do not re-post without permission.  text is open for personal use.

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One Response to “Vegan MoFo Day 4: Serene Sunday”

  1. tom mobry Says:

    Awesome! AWE-F*IN-SOME! I love it! You really should pursue writing, Honey.

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