Mind Matters —A collision of worlds

Driving to the San Jose, Calif. airport from Monterey last
Monday morning, I saw scores of men and women picking strawberries and
artichokes in vast, flat fields.

How often do we on the east coast even consider what
back-breaking work this must be? There are no machines, no robotic arms in this
continual landscape of long, low green rows—no, these are folks whose everyday
labor puts fruits and vegetables on our tables. We may play at our gardens and
enjoy the outdoors, growing some flowers and a tomato or two. We may even trek
to a farm to pick some strawberries or blueberries for the novelty of it. All
some sunny Sunday afternoon. But when do we reflect what it is like to be doing
that eight to 10 hours a day, every day? (Not to mention harvesting the fungi
that grows in our own backyard of Kennett Square, the mushroom capital of the
world.)

Also thought-provoking was my visit to Monterey itself.
While there, I visited its renowned aquarium. This institution makes every
attempt to educate its visitor on the connectedness and the fragility of our
environment, showing how what we do on land as well as in our oceans profoundly
affects the marine world. How pollution and our carbon footprint can wreak
havoc in the propagation of some of our favorite foods from the sea! [http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/default.aspx?c=dd]

Many years ago, I recall that César Chávez, who initiated
the farm workers movement in California, was having no luck convincing people
that pesticides sprayed on crops were making the field workers and their
families ill. When he pointed out that these pesticides could also harm
consumers, then people started to listen.

So, if not out of care for the common good or out of empathy
for others’ plight, we could at least consider now, arising from bottom line
basic selfishness, that if something isn’t good for the eco-system of the
earth, it’s not good for us as individuals and our families either.

Denial is a psychological phenomenon. We all carry denial in
some form or other. It helps us live. We cannot be in a continuously worried
state about everything that could go wrong. Yet on the other hand, we do have
to be prepared for situations; we have to educate ourselves on how best to
handle emergencies, etc. For example, we carry spare tires in the trunks of our
cars; in some climates, people get a load of wood in summer to prepare for
winter weather. We all know ways we prepare for the “just in case” situation—or
for the inevitable, for that matter. Part of the preparation comes from
recognizing the possibilities of what could occur in the future.

Perhaps denial occurs when the fear of what can happen is so
overwhelming and we have done so little to properly prepare for the emergency
that we shut down and can’t see what’s in front of our noses. Denial then
becomes our doom.

I write this coming back from a trip in which I flew
thousands of miles to visit my son who has just moved to California. Am I part
of the problem of denial? You bet I am. I rationalize that it’s okay to fly
because that mega oil-consuming flight is scheduled to go where it’s going
whether I am on it or not. I know some folks who avoid the use of cars and
planes as much as possible to maintain as small a carbon footprint as possible.

I’m not going to stop travelling to see my children (or the
world either, I hope). But we all need to start changing our perspectives on
how we traverse the earth or the beauty and the grandness of it all will not be
sustained for us or our children or grandchildren, onward.

Consider the millions of anonymous people and the many hands
that produce our food, make our clothes. Consider also the natural world,
including all the fish, even the starfish and the seahorse whose lives become
more challenged in our oceans day by day.

We are all in this together. When think we can go it alone,
be rugged individualists—that’s denial.

* Kayta Curzie Gajdos holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and is
in private practice in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. She welcomes comments at
MindMatters@DrGajdos.com or (610)388-2888. Past columns are posted
to
www.drgajdos.com.

About Kayta Gajdos

Dr. Kathleen Curzie Gajdos ("Kayta") is a licensed psychologist (Pennsylvania and Delaware) who has worked with individuals, couples, and families with a spectrum of problems. She has experience and training in the fields of alcohol and drug addictions, hypnosis, family therapy, Jungian theory, Gestalt therapy, EMDR, and bereavement. Dr. Gajdos developed a private practice in the Pittsburgh area, and was affiliated with the Family Therapy Institute of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, having written numerous articles for the Family Therapy Newsletter there. She has published in the American Psychological Association Bulletin, the Family Psychologist, and in the Swedenborgian publications, Chrysalis and The Messenger. Dr. Gajdos has taught at the college level, most recently for West Chester University and Wilmington College, and has served as field faculty for Vermont College of Norwich University the Union Institute's Center for Distance Learning, Cincinnati, Ohio. She has also served as consulting psychologist to the Irene Stacy Community MH/MR Center in Western Pennsylvania where she supervised psychologists in training. Currently active in disaster relief, Dr. Gajdos serves with the American Red Cross and participated in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts as a member of teams from the Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.Now living in Chadds Ford, in the Brandywine Valley of eastern Pennsylvania, Dr. Gajdos combines her private practice working with individuals, couples and families, with leading workshops on such topics as grief and healing, the impact of multigenerational grief and trauma shame, the shadow and self, Women Who Run with the Wolves, motherless daughters, and mediation and relaxation. Each year at Temenos Retreat Center in West Chester, PA she leads a griefs of birthing ritual for those who have suffered losses of procreation (abortions, miscarriages, infertility, etc.); she also holds yearly A Day of Re-Collection at Temenos.Dr. Gajdos holds Master's degrees in both philosophy and clinical psychology and received her Ph.D. in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. Among her professional affiliations, she includes having been a founding member and board member of the C.G. Jung Educational Center of Pittsburgh, as well as being listed in Who's Who of American Women. Currently, she is a member of the American Psychological Association, The Pennsylvania Psychological Association, the Delaware Psychological Association, the American Family Therapy Academy, The Association for Death Education and Counseling, and the Delaware County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Board. Woven into her professional career are Dr. Gajdos' pursuits of dancing, singing, and writing poetry.

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