Today I did something I've never done before.
I said that I had done enough, this week, for people and the planet.
Not enough in the sense we all hope for, not enough in the sense of the ONE CRITICAL THING that changes the world and makes everything OK again, but enough in the sense of having done all that my body and my family could tolerate, for now.
After accepting on Tuesday the chance to give part of a keynote address at a sustainable energy conference, writing the speech on Thursday, and giving it on Friday, and then co-leading two workshops at the same conference on Saturday, today I had meant to act on my new found determination to bring my concern about climate change before the media and decision makers.
I learned on Thursday - during a pause in the speech-writing – that Laura Bush will be arriving Monday in the town next door to ours, to make a speech of her own about the importance of protecting our national parks.
And so on Sunday I was going to plan HOW TO MAKE A STATEMENT about the urgency of climate change.
I got a lot of coaching from one of my neighbors, now a mostly mild mannered mother and consultant, but veteran of protests from Rocky Flats to New York City.
I learned her opinion that the odds of asking a Laura Bush a question were slim at best – "why would they want to open themselves up to potentially embarrassing questions when they don't have to?"
Which is too bad, because I had a good question in mind:
"Mrs. Bush, you have spoken here and in other places about your love for your daughters, your love of the national parks, and your concern for the well being of children. I share your same loves and concerns. They have lead me to pledge to do what I can to convince national leaders to enact climate policy consistent with what the latest science tells us is needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change. Would your family join me in that pledge?"
In my neighbor's opinion standing anywhere near her motorcade with a sign of any sort I'd likely be asked to set my sign down.
Which was also too bad because I had such a good one in mind.
"Mrs. Bush, Loving our National Parks Means Loving the Climate. 350ppm!"
The strategy with the best chance of success made sense once my friend educated me a little bit more. I should gather a group together, and find a place to stand somewhere in the town, but not in the way of the official route. We should bring our signs, and make them big. We should let the press know that thirty minutes before Mrs. Bush's remarks, "local activists will urge Mrs. Bush to act out of her commitment to our national parks by encouraging the administration to take specific actions to avoid the worst consequences of climate change."
It all made sense and was possible in theory.
But when I found myself being short with our seven-year old (who we'd left with friends during all the speech-making and workshop leading) for the second and then for the third time as I sat at the computer and tried to draft a press release and figure out where to fax it, it suddenly became just too much.
Laura Bush won't face my questions or signs tomorrow, though I imagine some of my fellow Vermonters will make their voices heard.
Giving up, slowing down, taking Sunday as a day of rest, didn't come easily. But in this strain that I feel everyday, between living life at a pace that seems to be fast enough to, maybe, get in front of the march to disaster, and living life at a pace that is in itself an answer to that march to disaster, I feel pretty sure that today, for me, and my family, I made the right choice.
I weeded the beans and planted some basil. I helped clean the bunny's cage and played a board game. It took a few hours of turmoil and regret, and (I'll admit it) a little resentment about the obligations of parenthood, but by the end of the afternoon, when the sun came out and the soil was moist with an inch of badly needed rain, I could remember again that doing this work is important, but that it is a job for the long-haul, and that, no matter how urgent it all feels, we need to pace ourselves.