A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me what I find myself wishing for, as I approach my 40th birthday.
Where can I possibly begin?
Health and comfort for everyone I love. A light at the end of the COVID tunnel. A lifting of the madness that seems to have gripped the collective consciousness more tenaciously than ever before. Relief for the multitudes suffering the world over as a result of the delusion of human supremacy. Planetary healing. Inner peace. Outer quiet.
But perhaps that’s a bit too much to ask of the candles on my cake.
Serendipitously, my 40th birthday happens to be occurring in parallel with the 40th anniversary of Gentle World, which came into existence as an organization just four days before my appearance on this planet, over 4000 miles away.
I suppose one might say we were made for one another. 🙂
In recognition of Gentle World’s 40 years of vegan education, our organization has been provided with a matching funds grant; a challenge to raise $10,000 in donations in order to have it doubled.
The resulting budget would make it possible for us to embark on a whole new journey of educational outreach, and bring to more people than ever before our message of hope for a peaceful and prosperous future.
As Gentle World’s outreach director, our online education has been my service to the world ever since I launched it over 10 years ago. I may not have written all of the 400+ articles making up our website’s pages, but I have had a hand in every single one of them, whether by dreaming up the concepts, co-writing and collaborating on the content, formatting and illustrating, or simply by carrying out the essential practice of editing and proofreading.
Over the years, it has been built with the help of many formidable minds and hearts, each bringing unique strengths and gifts to the project, and each helping our site to be an example of the magic of collaboration and synergy.
In addition to those we mentioned in our anniversary announcement, there have been countless other guest contributors who have added value in the form of quality cornerstone content, including Laura Schults, Michael Chatham, and the wonderful Christine Wells, who marries her staunch veganism with such respect for the English language that her contributions left me almost irrelevant as an editor.
Most recently, our new friend Carolyn Harris graced our front page with the inspiring and uplifting essay Yes, Being Vegan Does Make a Difference. We hope to to share more from Carolyn in the future.
And of course, the writings of Light and Sun (Gentle World’s co-founders) aim “to set others climbing” by (to paraphrase Light himself) “speaking not of the ascent, but of the view from the summit.” They remain treasures buried within the many pages of this site, and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to provide a platform from which their unique perspectives can be shared with a world that is a better place for their contributions to it.
As strange as it feels for me to say it, it was hard for me to really, truly become vegan. This wasn’t because I found it inconvenient, though I might have told myself that was the reason when I tried internally to justify my transgressions. It was hard for me because I fought against it. I suppose, in retrospect, I was so embarrassed by my willingness to participate in what I suddenly had to admit was unjustifiable that I just didn’t want to see it for what it was. When I think back, I can almost remember viscerally the denial and the absurd clinging to my belief of having already grown into the self I was yet to become.
What a relief it was when I was able to finally put that battle firmly behind me.
10 years and a whole lot more understanding later, I was 30 years old when I hesitantly made my writing debut on the (now closed) green living website known as Care2, where I was granted a remarkable opportunity to find and develop my voice, and share all I had learned about veganism with a community that welcomed me, rejected me, challenged me and empowered me all at once.
I might have been ten years less skillful and ten years more ignorant when I was pouring myself into those words, but the experience seeded in me the desire to build a space online where my deepest writings would truly be at home; a digital haven where the work of my heart could be shared, and where the Gentle World vision would be seen, and its message heard.
As someone who has always gravitated toward those who are my senior in years, seeing the age of forty on the horizon sometimes feels like no big deal at all. On the other hand, any new decade tends to exert a singular pressure as it looms in the near future. And forty? Well, it seems to be presenting me with a challenge I’ve never quite faced before, as I wrestle with how I can appropriately make the most of the turn of this particular ten-year span.
Who am I becoming as I step over this threshold? What have I accomplished in the precious time that life has so generously granted me? Am I doing all I can to help move myself and the rest of humanity forward? Am I living up to my own expectations? Or do I owe more?
One needs no more than ask to find the answers to such questions.
This $10,000 matching pledge represents a chance for outreach opportunities that have previously been closed to us, and seeing the challenge reached would be the perfect way to celebrate not only my 40th, but also the decade I have spent tending to this labor of love, and nurturing our hopes for its future.