Right now I am sitting in one of many Barnes & Noble stores within driving distance of my house, sipping on a lemonade-iced tea, using the Soundhound app on my iPhone to identify the music wafting through the sound system, with a three year old laptop whose battery still has a juice to allow me to work even though there are no electrical outlets nearby.
I am gainfully employed at the same company I started working at in a seasonal position many years ago, and I am utilizing one of my paid vacation days to get some extracurricular work done.
It’s late morning, and I’ve already been to the park for a quick walk, where I got to watch plenty of rabbits eating breakfast. With a few keystrokes I can tweet about my walk with friends and acquaintances near and far. With one press of the button on my phone, I can post a photo to Instagram and get numerous “likes.”
I’ve already been to the local pancake house for a tofu scramble and raspberry tea. And I stopped at one of the many local Target stores to take advantage of a sale on vegan cosmetics. (Have you guys heard of Pacifica? Cruelty-free, at Target.)
I realize that vegan makeup and tofu for breakfast are the obvious reasons I am telling you all of this, but they are just symptoms of an affliction I have, one that I don’t always notice.
I am extremely lucky. I have time. I have money. I have shelter and family. I have the ability to buy vegan products and eat vegan food within a five-mile radius of my home. I am healthy enough to walk, to work. I am present enough to recognize this – maybe not all of the time, but sometimes.
I read a lot of books – a lot of fiction and non-fiction, but when I’m not writing at the bookstore, I’m perusing the self-help section. There are countless authors who are proponents of living in the present – not fussing about the past or worrying about the future. This goes against every fiber of my being, but hell if it isn’t sound advice. Since this is a vegan blog, let me apply it to veganism.
It can be soul-crushing to think about the billions of animals who have died and will die due to human consumption. Reading, hearing, or seeing the stories of fear, pain and death is so painful. And it’s important to remember each of those stories. But if we’re going to make any headway in our fight, we have to be able to move forward. And staying in the moment – focusing on right now – is a tool that we need to use.
We are so lucky to have a voice that we can use. We are so lucky that we can choose not to participate in exploitation or cruelty. We don’t have to think about the animals we once ate, and we don’t have to worry about what next Thanksgiving will look like at our family’s gathering. All we have to do is advocate for the animals in this moment, the best we can. We can choose to act in alignment with what we believe and what we value. We can choose to answer questions with patience and compassion. We can choose to speak our truth and let another’s reaction to it be theirs to worry about. We can choose not to make every moment “about” something.
There’s importance in sitting in silence, in taking a break. I am a vegan, 24 hours a day. My veganism informs how I read books, how I watch films, how I perceive news segments and even how I observe strangers while out and about. But I don’t feel guilty when I’m sitting in an overstuffed chair reading an article in Rolling Stone, or window shopping at Pottery Barn (because let’s be honest – I cannot afford anything in that store). I’m grateful for lighter moments like these. They balance out the difficult ones, and they make the day-to-day fight all the more poignant.