August 1, 2022

Be willing to stand out on the patio at your next dinner party.

I went to a dinner the other night up in the mountains, with friends, with industry leaders, wonderful humans doing good for this world.

Michelle and I got in a fight on the drive up. Resentments, blame, pleading for communication.

We parked at the bottom of the hill, so we could enjoy the walk up and process, get through the argument. So we could feel the breeze, hear the sounds of nature. (Pro-tip: stop trying to park close to where you’re going, if you drive. If you are able, get a walk in, it’s de-stressing and healthy and you’ll save time and money and spew less climate-crisis-fueling dirty petrol while you’re looking for a spot).

During the dinner, there were subtle or not-so-subtle moments of what I remember from junior high (so far back!) of being cool, pressuring for more. I was joined by two dear companies who are devoted to the greater good, in various ways, and Elephant is in need of partnership, but I didn’t want to “pitch” or “compete.” I recoil from such competitiveness. I would connect through genuine heart, not pushy confidence. There’s a slippery layer to pushiness I’ve never been comfortable with.

Early on, a deer came to feed by the house.

Our host fed the deer, as many neighbors up there do. We all marveled at the deer, its alertness, its large, sensitive ears. We talked with love about our dogs, two of whom had just died. And yet we weren’t vegan, many of us. We hadn’t made the connection.

I stayed out on the patio, alone, for some time, appreciating the lights of the city below, but mostly the hills, the mountains, the sage, the deer, the breeze, and eventually the emerging stars. At one point our host came up to me, hand on my shoulder. I was able to open up, a bit. I felt sad about my fight with Michelle, about the state of Elephant, about my many years of effort to be of benefit re climate crisis and social justice that all, seemingly, was for naught, now, as The Man’s Algorithm steps on us and everybody else.

I felt sad, and if you can bring sad to a dinner party, it’s a genuine dinner party.

Elephant has never been anything but an independent platform to help all of us be of some real benefit. If we all band together, we can still help many countless animals and one another, both, and our earth, our rich, vulnerable, powerful, fragile earth.

Our earth is not a cold hard rock. It will not be fine if we burn everything down, which is a nihilistic excuse I hear at too many dinner parties (ah, we’ll go extinct, that’s our bad, the earth will be fine).

No. Millions of vulnerable humans who have not been cruel to this earth on our level, millions of animals will all suffer and hurt all along that nihilistic path.

It’s up to us to be kind. To give a care. To band together, support one another, show up. And it’s more fun to do so, really.

It’s too easy to play consumer, to sit back on our couches and give up and enjoy a Netflix show while surfing Facebook’s Instagram. Instead, be like Bill Russell. Be like Nichelle Nichols. Care. Serve. Lead. Inspire.

And maybe, be willing to stand out on the patio at your next dinner party, if you feel sad. Be willing to feel sad. Others who are kind and caring may notice, and then we may connect genuinely, instead of BSing our way through, not caring, not connecting, not helping.

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