In the past two weeks, I have gone from college bum to corporate chum — kind of. With an environmental sciences degree, I started working for a nonprofit in the North Bay that helps communities identify and fulfill their climate and energy conservation goals.
Part of being the new kid in the office is being excited about everything! I am so new at my job that I even got excited about planning activities during lunchtime — a time of day that, for seasoned workers, has devolved into scarfing a PB&J at a desk as quickly as possible.
So last week, while sitting at home one afternoon, I had the idea that watching a short environmental film in the conference room could be a cool lunchtime activity. As I scrolled through the seven environmental films that Greenpeace says I need to see, I came upon one called “Bikes vs Cars.”
Clicking on the trailer link, I was hoping that this film would not have the doom-and-gloom message that is so common in environmental movies. Working at a sustainability nonprofit, people do not need to hear that global warming is going to kill us all on their lunch breaks.
Lo and behold, about 30 seconds into the “Bikes vs Cars” trailer, I was bawling with deep-seated sorrow and compassion. The waterworks started because the film pointed out how the people who are selling the cars that are driving on the roads, burning fossil fuels and spiraling us toward an unknown, unstable climate future are just mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and daughters and sons.
In that moment, I was empathetic, because that video painted those car-selling villains as people who were just doing their best. Sitting on my couch with tears streaming down my face, I sobbed because I was exploding with the feeling of connection to others. For one second, I was so completely filled with hope. If we all just cared for each other and connected through our most basic humanity, then we could find solutions to the challenges we face in this crazy world.
It is safe to say that I will not be recommending that we show that video. I don’t think I have been working there long enough to unload my deepest, most intense feelings of human connection. I am not yet ready to sit and cry in the conference room on a casual Friday lunch, and I don’t think anyone else is, either.
So ironically, I have found a film that evokes the feeling of human connection that I think will save us all, and I never want to show it to anyone. Feeling connected to the whole world at once was a terrifying yet beautiful feeling that I could only unleash ever so often.
But fortunately, this summer, I found that writing as an opinion columnist for The Daily Californian has allowed me to connect with others without crying on their PB&Js. For the past 11 weeks, I was asked to tap into my hidden emotional world — thankfully, not to the extent of sobbing on the regular, although there were tears involved. Through writing, I have shared stories about my passion for protecting the environment, about my body positivity journey, about sex and dating, about drinking and about being a consumer in this crazy world full of overconsumption.
Through writing this column, I have shared myself and who I am. Through being vulnerable and honest and brave, I have shown who I am, and through that, I believe that I have gotten this world just a little bit closer to the compassion- and caring-filled version that I envision for the future.
In my life, there will always be new times filled with new jobs and friends and apartments, and as I share myself with the world, I will always have my columns there for me, a part of me that will exist memorialized in the deep archives of the Daily Cal.
To read me is to know me. As people connect to me through my writing, I hope they are inspired to connect to others in their own ways. Through this domino effect of love and discovery, I believe that the world will become a better place.
Thank you to everyone for reading about me and my life. I have received so much love and support for the work that I have done, and I could not have asked for more. As you go on in the world without your favorite weekly column to read, I implore you to remember how you felt and what you learned by getting to know me better.
Jessica Redden writes the Monday column on finding freedom from overconsumption. Contact her at [email protected].