Julia Butterfly Hill lived a fast-paced lifestyle until surviving a severe car crash at the age of twenty-two. Hill has said that the accident and subsequent year-long road to recovery awakened her desire to begin a spiritual quest. She ended up 180 feet above ground, living in a California Redwood Tree named Luna that was over 1,000 years old to keep it from being cut down. Hill lived in the tree for 738 days without ever touching the ground on two 4’x6’ platforms. Her dedication protected the tree from destruction, sparked a movement, and transformed her life. Today, Hill travels the world sharing her knowledge of environmental conservation and inspiring others to believe in their power to create serious change.
1. During your two-year stay in Luna, how did you cope with feelings of isolation and confinement? How has this aspect of the experience influenced your daily life?
My time in Luna taught me so much about myself, the world, and what it means to be fully present and alive through every experience—whether we perceive it as positive or negative. The isolation and confinement I sometimes felt while living in Luna taught me how powerful, and even important, it is to source from within ourselves our connection to the Divine (however we relate to or define its meaning) and to the Natural World of which we are a part. We so often look outside of ourselves for things like joy, peace, love, or power. Yet, when I had what felt like nothing is when I found out how much I truly have, just by being connected to Source. Prayer, meditation, and gratitude exercises were and still are vital in my finding freedom, joy, and power even in the most challenging of moments.
2. How did you maintain physical health during your stay in Luna? Could you tell us about your diet and physical activities?
What we eat, what we think, and what we do with our bodies and our choices all play an important role in the health of our bodies, our communities, and our world. I am a Joyous Vegan (meaning I joyfully refrain from eating animals, including fish, chicken, cows, sheep, goats, or pigs; nor do I eat anything that comes from them.) When the weather permitted, I climbed in the tree for exercise—which was like partner yoga with a tree! My favorite yoga ever! I, also, have found that prayer and commitment to living spiritually and mentally healthy also plays an important role in my physical well-being. So, too, with what we do to the planet. It is all connected. It is all one. What we do to the Earth, we do to ourselves.
3. How would you describe the force that guides your activism? What advice do you have for those yearning to change the world for the better but feeling like they cannot make a difference as an individual?
Because no choice happens in a vacuum, every single choice changes the world. It is actually scientifically, physically, and spiritually IMPOSSIBLE to not make a difference! Therefore, the question is not, can one person make a difference? Each and every one of us absolutely does make a difference! Once we realize this, we stop believing in the myth and asking ourselves, “Can I make a difference?” We awaken and recognize and step into the truth of our power, and ask ourselves instead, “What KIND of a difference do I want to make?”
The force that guides my activism is my commitment to living a life that (to the best of my ability) models the world in which I want to live. These are my choices. I am human, so I make many mistakes, but my commitment is to live Love in Action with every thought, word, and action. For me, my life and my choices are a Spiritual practice in every moment.
4. What is a typical day in the life of Julia Butterfly Hill? Are there a few simple habits that you integrate into your daily life that our readers can adopt to care more for the earth on a daily basis?
Although there is no such thing as a typical day in my life, I do have everyday mindfulness practices. The guiding principle for me is an idea of true “Ahimsa,” or non-violence. My understanding of this movement is a deeper definition than I normally hear articulated. For me to live this commitment is “to live so fully and presently in Love, that there is no room for anything else to exist.” This is a much bigger calling than to just live as a non-violent person. This commitment calls me to be so committed to being a full and living embodiment of love consciousness that I fill a space until all else falls away. I look at every thought, word, and action through this lens and do my best to live up to this calling.
There is no such thing as a perfect choice, but there is always a best choice for any given moment. This can be as simple as selecting reusables instead of disposables. When we say we are going to throw something away—where is “away?” There is no such thing or place. “Away” always has a face and a place. I do not feel that Love would guide us to trash the Earth and livelihood of others. So Love guides me to bring my own reusable mug, utensils, napkin, and container with me everywhere I go. I love this Earth and her species and future generations far too much to trash and waste them. I am a joyous vegan because how we decide to eat can be tools of mass compassion or weapons of mass destruction. Love guides me to choose to joyously eat as simply as I can to honor all life and to live as lightly on this Sacred Earth as I can.
I do my best to follow what Love would do moment to moment. It is actually very empowering and joyful to ask myself, moment to moment, “What would Love do?” Then, I do my best to live in a way that honors the answer of Love.
I can relate to life on Luna! haha...what an neat lady. I had to share. x