One-word tattoos are my favorite kind of tattoos. There’s always a bigger story. It’s not that complex ideas are easily diminished and can be adequately summed up in one word; rather one word can contain an entire universe of ideas. It can be expansive and deep, despite its letter count. My tattoo of the word ‘unless’ serves as a constant reminder to care and to care deeply. There’s a bigger story here too. The word comes from the Dr. Seuss book, The Lorax. The message of which is contained in a phrase that gives ‘unless’ a much deeper meaning than your average conjunction:
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Truly caring about shit is not to be underestimated. Only when you care can you act. Apathy is the biggest obstacle to change and perhaps more negative than actually being negative. At least negative emotion is still emotion. Having no genuine interest in a thing makes it hard to fight for it or fight against it. You can’t help if you can’t see why helping is important. It’s even harder to resist, if you can’t see why you should. This action is step two though, caring is still where it all starts. It’s the hard part too. Action would seem the more difficult part, but I think that comes easy when the heart is there. We truly only make time for what we care about. CrossFit folks come to mind here, with their obsessive working out, clean eating, and talking about CrossFit. It’s quite the commitment to be the CrossFit guy and to effortlessly work it into every interaction. That’s just a deep love for living well and working out though. That’s the passion, that makes it not a chore. You’ve never seen an out of shape CrossFit person, have you? No, you have not. They’ve made the time for what they care about, and it bleeds into everything. I want that CrossFit passion for the things I care about, because working out is not it.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that no one can care about everything. It’s hard to be at the gym all day to sculpt the perfect body and be a master chef and read 100 books a year. It’s hard to care about the rain forest, immigration, the seals, the sharks, the homeless, the church, your friend who is struggling with anxiety, your aging grandparents, and global warming. This is where apathy sneaks in. There is too much to care about. With 24-hour news, we are bombarded with the world’s horrors while simultaneously being bombarded with a call to action, a plea to come help prevent the horrors. Shutting down is easy when there’s too much to care about. If everyone shuts down though, the deluge of negativity will only get worse. No one can care about everything, yes. BUT – everyone needs to care about something. Be informed, be up to date, don’t bury your head in the sand; but have a passion that you can focus on. It’s okay if it’s shelter dogs and not foster kids. It’s okay if it’s the forest, not the ocean. Just find it and fight for it. Like the Crossfit guy fights for that six pack. You go Crossfit guy!!
As far as passions go, mine is obviously reading. I think people need to read more, plain and simple. Much of my time, probably more than is acceptable, is devoted to reading. I avoid cleaning and cooking at all costs. I also avoid going out most of the time. I could live on books. But you knew that. I also have an unyielding need to protect the planet by recycling and reusing everything I come into contact with. I also have a new obsession with creating support systems around me for the betterment of my female friends.
As a kid I was drawn to the ocean. As an adult I connect with the woods. I wanted to be a marine photographer when I was young (still do, but that’s okay). Loved the beach, even our shitty Texas ones. I wanted nothing more than to just live underwater, but I settled for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and any movie with sea animals. Now I feel like living out in the trees though. Maybe that’s from The Lorax since it’s about caring for the trees. Maybe it’s my intense love of The Lord of the Rings and my attachment to the elves. I mean, let’s just talk about Rivendell and its eternal fall. I want to live there and drink their equivalent of pumpkin spice lattes surrounded by trees. Let’s talk about Mirkwood and all that green. I bet Legolas and I would be buddies. Let’s really talk about Lothlórien which I love above all things, that beautiful peace that comes with living in huge, old trees.
I love everything really. Swimming, hiking it’s all the same to me as long as I can be outside. There’s a slam poem by Rudy Francisco (look him up now) that sums up how I feel about being cooped up inside. He says he’s got solar-powered confidence. That’s a
perfect way to describe being tied to nature. I practice earthing, or as my boyfriend says, being a hippie. It’s really just walking barefoot outside, but while paying attention, real attention, to your connection with the earth. I walk barefoot as much as I can, especially in the rain. There’s so much beauty in nature. In trees, flowers, even grass. There’s so much life out there, that’s not people, hidden in all that nature. It all deserves to be protected. I try to do my part plus a little extra to preserve what’s here. We destroy too often.
My other passion, more like my obsession is helping other girls. I used to be that girl who said things like, “I would rather hang out with boys, they’re less drama.” I wanted to be one of the guys, wanted to be the cool girl. I had friends who were girls, sure, but I was never super nice if I didn’t know you. I never had any immediate desire to get close to new girls; there was always some level of mistrust there. It took me a while to make new girlfriends because they’d be mean, I just knew it. Let’s be real though, girls are only drama if you’re already mean. There’s nothing inherently bad about being a female that makes you rude and spiteful for no reason. Competition is in the fabric of our culture; jealousy and cattiness come from that – we’re not born with it. My attitude changed while scrolling through Pinterest one day. I saw a pin that said: Why do we as girls tear each other down? When we know how hard it is to be a girl?
That really clicked with me. A simple thought. Life is already hard, I think it’s harder for girls (I am biased, yeah). Why in the hell would we make it harder on each other? Since then I’ve been a huge advocate for others. I hope we all win; I’m not against anyone. I get jealous, we all do. That’s not specific to girls either. However, I don’t let that prevent me from cheering. Another woman’s success doesn’t mean I failed. It means I will succeed too later. The more girls in boss positions and leadership roles the better. The more females in office and academics the better. We need to help each other get there, where ever ‘there’ is. I’ve got a girl gang from high school that’s very supportive. I have a girl gang at work that is extremely supportive. I’ve surrounded myself with girls I believe in and want to see do well. We read feminist literature together, we see Wonder Woman in an all-female screening, we march together. Support your local girl gang! Or come join mine. Seriously, join us. We’ve started to meet every other week to brainstorm about helping each other grow in our passions.
This post was difficult to wrap up because I found myself typing all the ways I’ve reduced my carbon footprint over the years. I then tried to type all the things I’ve done lately that have helped other women succeed. I was typing so much to prove that I am worthy of this unless tattoo, to prove how much I really do care. It came off real braggy. I don’t want to brag; I’m far from perfect. I still take long showers, I still eat a lot of meat, I use a lot of plastic, I have the AC on really low as I’m typing this. But I love the planet, I live here, I want to take care of it. I also still get jealous of friends, like I said. I still say the wrong things in the midst of a fight or when I’m having anxiety around a situation. I am wrong all the time and I’m mean on my worst days. I still assume that other girls are being mean, even when they’re not. BUT girls need to support girls. This stigma of girls not being able to get along is toxic. We need to stop saying, “I’m not like other girls,” and separating ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with being a girl. At all. I am here to build up others and get over myself along the way. I want us all to win.
So — Instead of me bragging about how good I am at embracing my passions, please leave a note in the comments and tell me what YOU do to make the world a better place. There are so many things to care about, so many people need help, so many animals need help, entire countries need help.
I need help.
You need help.
The world needs us to care.
Brag! Tell me what you’re doing to make it better. Tell me how I can support what your “unless” means.
I promise to look into every single cause. I promise to help and promote your ideas and interests if they speak to me too!
Apathy is the enemy. Go care.