The Big Island of Hawaii is a unique and wondrous place. There are lush, tropical forests, fiery rivers of molten lava, barren deserts, as well as beautiful pastures of verdant grass.. However, one thing that took me by surprise was something called Vog. It looks like fog, or an overcast day, but unfortunately there is more to it than that. A new vent for Kilauea opened up east of Pu 'u 'O o' , and the volcanic ash that is discharged creates a hazy atmosphere with some deleterious consequences.
The Voggy air quality is causing respiratory problems. It also creates an acid rain that fouls the water and kills off some of the plant life. For those who collect rainwater to drink, their bodies can become spoisoned and ill. Fortunately, trade winds can disperse the Vog. Even in paradise there are factors that can have a serious effect on health and happiness. In this case, it is an air and water pollution problem that is not caused by humankind. Of course this is the exception and not the rule when it comes to pollution. But I digress.
It is not my intent to diss Hawaii. I love the Hawaiian islands. The beauty of both the land and the people are unforgettable. I have lived here in the past, and I will return again and again to visit. Once my Voggy headache disappeared, it occurred to me how Vog is an example of our connectedness with nature, its creatures, and one another. Being a strong-minded woman with an individualistic spirit, the notion of how humankind and our environment are connected, was a bit of a stretch when I first heard of the concept some 20 years ago. I believe in personal responsibility and had a hard time believing that my actions, or the actions of others had a domino effect on the planet, as well as the universe. However, with our education and awareness of the effects of pollution, we know better than to think we live in a vacuum.
From a spiritual standpoint, air and water pollution help bring home the illustrative point of our connectedness and interdependence to one another. Let’s imagine the earth as a big bottle of water. Draw a circle the glass to designate the country where you live. Then make a small dot to represent you. Everything in your area is nice and clean. Now take a few drops of food coloring from the top of the bottle and add a little wind and wave action by stirring things up a bit. Before you know it, the little country you drew, and your little life, have taken on the hue of the food coloring. Whether we like it or not, we are connected and share each other’s pain and happiness.
It has always amazed me how the human body is so much a microcosm of our planet earth. Like Earth, our body is mostly water. Our blood vessels work much the same way as the rivers and streams that flow across the landscape. And when things become toxic, things get sick and die. It is as if we are cells in the living organism we call Earth. And of course Earth is like a cell within the universe. All the more reason we need to be conscious of our actions. Of course most of us are trying to reduce pollution. And while we have a long way to go, we are making some important strides for the better.
However, there is another pollution that is totally under our control, yet it continues to wreck havoc on so many of us. That pollution is the inability to forgive. How often have we dredged up a painful moment from your past and not only kept it alive and well, but even wear it as a badge of honor? I dare say that this internal pollution is akin to breathing in Vog day in and day out. We may think it’s invisible, but it colors our thoughts, speech and actions and poisons our souls. Each hurt that we cling to is like adding drops of dark, toxic, ink to our body vessel.
In my lifetime I have held onto more than my fair share of grudges. Some may have seemed justified, others probably not. But either way, my lack of forgiveness did not make me a happier, healthier person. In fact, it had quite the opposite effect. So now I forgive and forget (which is very handy since I am pretty forgetful in a general way too).
Sages, saints and coordinators of 12-step programs have preached forgiveness for years. They spread the message because it works. So let’s take a global issue and make it personal. Start by forgiving one person who wronged you. Then, move on to forgiving another. In time, the Vog will lift and just like the Jimmy Cliff song, from “I can see clearly now” you will experience the following.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me down.
It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright., bright sun shiny day.