Everything that surrounds us,and ....
Everything that we brush past unknowing,
Everything that we touch which is not felt,
Everything that we meet unnoticing
Has on us swift, surprising, and inexplicable effects.
When one tugs at a single thing in nature,
he finds it attached to the rest of the world.
I like both. I love what they say to us. And the applications to us and our world are wide spread.
First, look at the nature or environmental aspects. I think of walking through a wilderness and how I feel when I'm there. I feel respectful of nature, more so, I think, because of the near lack of evidence of humankind. I'm careful where I step, because I don't want to spoil the beauty of the ecosystem. I've seen tiny flowers, blooms so small that they would almost fit on the head of a pin, and I've tried to avoid stepping on those minuscule plants. These sit at the bases of enormous Ponderosa pines which soar high into the sky in contrast.
In the wilderness area near my house, my favorite path follows a very small stream. As I walk this path, I'm aware of the precious quality of water. My home is surrounded by desert, so water is something always on our minds, but this particular place actually has water. The size of the stream is a reminder that there is limited water to nourish this place and all the places farther down the mountain, where this and other minute waterways come together to form creeks and rivers. But they are not rivers with profuse amounts of water, and I'm reminded, too, that the number of animals, plants and people dependent on this water are greater than it can actually provide.
Then I see a candy bar wrapper or potato chip bag or a plastic or aluminum drink container discarded in the stream or atop the tiny plant. I can't help but have a wave of anger at the person or persons who are thoughtless enough to toss these things on the ground in such a beautiful and pristine place! I usually try to remember to carry a plastic bag to gather up such items, but I wonder why it is up to me to pick up what several others have scattered without a second thought.
My point is that I feel we each have to be responsible for ourselves. What someone tosses aside becomes an eyesore and an imbalance which someone else will have to pick up. Or else wait a couple hundred years for it to break down! We all see litter alongside the highway, and while I don't like that, either, it isn't as noticeable as the occasional litter in those more secluded areas. Have you ever been driving down the road and unwrapped, say, a piece of gum, and thought, "It's just a very small piece of paper; it won't hurt to toss it out"? I have. Fortunately, that has been followed by the idea that if every person driving this road did the same thing, there would be a pile of hundreds of gum wrappers to mess up the roadside. So I didn't. The thing is .... not everyone gets it. Or there is such a sense of entitlement that they don't care who has to pick up after them. Sad, sad, sad.
Second example: Things we do have impact on our surroundings. By that, I mean our actions (thoughtless tossing of waste), our behaviors (have you ever been irritated by someone's loud radio?), our words (spoken without forethought or consideration of surroundings). Once something is done or said, it usually can't be undone. Oh, sometimes, the action can be reversed or apologies made, but it doesn't undo the impact.
Every move we make has a ripple effect. Or a sledge hammer effect, in some cases. Every thing we do bounces off the rest of the world. We cannot do something, anything, without it doing so! Whether I am thoughtful or unkind will affect the people with whom I have contact. Even my smallest actions are likely to be noticed and responded to in return. I've found that a flat-affect in a clerk or waitperson can often be changed by my smiling and simply asking "How are you today?" Not always, but usually. Conversely, when I'm distracted and unsmiling, those around me tend to offer back the same.
It changes things when I act. Even if I'm alone, what I do ripples out in one way or another. What I allow myself to do effects how I will feel, act, speak in subsequent moments. I've noticed a few times when I've been home grousing aloud or silently about something or someone, when I go among other people, my mood is carried with me. Now, I'm not saying we can't grump around or feel sorry for ourselves or have a good cry. I think it is healthy to do that alone or with a limited audience (limited to someone who understands and can help you through the process without taking on your nasty mood). But before we walk into the world outside those walls, we need to adjust that attitude, acknowledge that it is what it is, then put on a more positive face.
Have you ever worked with or been friends with someone who comes around and you say, "How are you?", and they begin the sighing and moaning about [fill in the blank]? Did you notice that you begin to not enjoy being around that person? I have, and I don't want to be that person! Even the best of friends can only carry so much of your baggage or mine. Eventually they will begin to distance themselves.
So .... when tree falls in the forest, I may not hear it, but it will still impact on my world. And when I squash a bug in the forest, no one may notice, but I've changed the ecosystem. I'm not saying you should let the rattlesnake in the forest bite you. That's ludicrous! But watch where your stepping so you don't put your foot on his tail.