Shea's Note: In this new series I ask prominent members of the green scene how and why they came to the eco-side. My buddy Adam Shake of Twilight Earth was kind enough to jump in first. Adam has one of the most interesting 'going green' stories that I've heard. After spending more than a decade in the military, he re-made himself as an eco-entrepreneur and budding green media mogul. I'll shut up now and let him tell his story. Here's how and why Adam Shake went green.
How did we get here? What are the winds of fate that blew our ship to its current port? Why am I Green, Enviro, Eco? Why do I consider myself an Activist, Advocate and Protector of our Earth, our Home and Ourselves? A businessman, writer, blogger, editor, entrepreneur.
Was it that corner I took in Wahoo, Kansas, one time, while I was lost, that put me behind the Exxon truck belching the diesel fuel that washed over me like an airborne oil slick? Or was it the Sunday afternoons as a kid, that I spent on my grandparents' farm, wandering around 50 acres of Michigan forest land, unsupervised and happy to be alone? Was it being stationed in Colorado as a young soldier, and discovering Pinon Canyon and Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods and Barr Trail? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
I’ve always been honest with my readers about how I got to where I’m at. I proudly served in the Army for over a decade. I spent my last nine months of that service in Bosnia, trying to keep the Bosnians, Serbians and Croatians from killing each other while taking heat myself. I saw the results of ethnic cleansing, apartment buildings on fire, kids eating the bark off of trees and things that will give me nightmares for the rest of my life.
When I returned, my life, my puzzle, was blown off the table and shattered all over the proverbial floor. But it wasn’t until after it shattered, that I realized that it had been a puzzle. I had been busy trying to push down those pieces of my puzzle that I thought identified me. Husband, father, soldier, bread winner ... these are what identified me. These were the corners of my puzzle. Inside the puzzle were the bills, the obligations, the travel, the car that wasn't running right, the dog, the cat, the yard ... All those things that we constantly spend our lives trying to keep from popping up. I was spending all my time and energy keeping the pieces of my puzzle in place.
When my puzzle, my life, shattered, I was suddenly left without those pieces, both big and small. I realized (just in time) that there was one piece of the puzzle I had to find. I had to find it on the floor. I had to nurture it. I had to keep it alive. That piece was me, and I had forgotten what it looked like. I had forgotten what it was. It was small, and vulnerable. It needed attention. It needed help.
I went to the one thing I knew. I went to nature. I went to the mountains. I went to the wilderness to find myself.
It was just enough to come to the realization that I never want my life to be a puzzle again. I want my life to be like a picture, like a painting. I want my life to be based on a single principle. I must know who I am before I can be anyone at all. It’s only then that I can make a difference. It’s only then that I can take the risks, to let my voice be heard and my mind be known to the world. It’s only then that I can realize that the only constant in life is change, and that I can and must fight for that change.
Yes, I am proud to have served my country and its citizens, and now I am proud to serve my planet and its citizens. We have a very patriotic idea of our country, the USA, the Red, White and Blue. We send our children to wars to defend it and its ideals. But if the USA is an area of land defined by a border, then the EARTH is a much larger, and more important piece of land. Because even though the USA may provide some jobs, some food and some places to live, the EARTH provides all the jobs, all the food and all the places to live. If we take care of EARTH, we take care of ourselves.
This is what I believe. This is what I fight for.
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