Eighteen months ago, I became a vegetarian. I had been a vegetarian in my teens, around about the same time that I was a member of CND, boycotted Del Monte because of their support of the Apartheid regime in South Africa, had a subscription to the New Internationalist, was wearing Doc Martins before they were cool when the only place you could buy them was the Army Surplus store, and wanted to study medicine to rid the world of disease and suffering.
But somewhere along the road of life, wide-eyed teenage conviction that one’s purpose in life is to change the world for the better was overtaken by the cynicism of adulthood. Marriage, mortgage, motherhood and the mundanity of everyday life shrunk my world, blinkered my view and sapped every last ounce of energy I had. I no longer had the time for my convictions, never mind the courage of them.
So I pottered along in my perfectly lovely, perfectly normal life, telling my inner teenager that there really wasn’t any point anyway; who did she think she was with her ideas of world peace and ending starvation and universal healthcare. No one else was giving a shit and really it was time to quieten down, get real and grow up. I told her one person couldn’t change the world, and she really needed to get over it.
And that was fine, for a while. But my life was out of kilter with my internal compass, and my chronic box of sadness was growing larger and larger. With the exception of my family, I had lost sight of the things that were important to me, things that I felt strongly about and felt compelled to stand up for.
Then, all of a sudden, it happened – a moment of clarity. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t change the world, feed the poor, house the homeless, eradicate treatable disease. Because I could change me. It didn’t matter if my actions made no difference at all in the grand scheme of things, or if you agreed with me. Because I agreed with me. It didn’t matter if others thought I was a crank or an eccentric. Because I knew my reasons. The teenager did grow up, and she realised that striving to change others and the external world was missing the point. I could no longer refuse to do the something I could do.
I became a vegetarian, I took up yoga, I volunteered. I sign petitions, I boycott Nestle, I buy a meal for the first homeless person I come across each time I am in the city centre. I make sure the people in my life who are important to me, know how important they are. I write to encourage others to be their own true, powerful selves and change their own worlds.
When we all do the something we can do, the world is a better place for everyone.
What can you do?
Do you have the courage of your convictions? Do you find it hard to find the time to live what you believe? Share your thoughts below.