10 Questions with Shana Lee Gibson, creator of “Perseverance- A Pandemic and a Search for Justice”
Shane Lee Gibson is an avid meditator and filmmaker best known for her short film “Perseverance- A Pandemic and a Search for Justice” which touches on anxiety surrounding the pandemic and features visuals of British Columbia’s natural environment.
1.Thank you for sharing your inspirational video with all of us, I’m sure if it touched a lot of people in many different ways. Before we talk about the video itself, tell us about the person behind the camera. What do you want our readers to know about Shana Lee Gibson?
My pleasure! I have a heart for our planet and an innate desire to understand the complexities of existence. Everything I do in my life is directed toward seeking answers to who I am as a mind, body and soul, and what I can contribute to making the world better. In my early 20’s when searching for meaning, I met a stranger at Starbucks who gave me a book, ‘Autobiography of a Yogi,’ by Parmahansa Yogananda. That book lit a fire in me, and I dedicated myself to yoga and devotion. My peace is found in meditation and in nature when filming.
2. It goes without saying that 2020 was challenging for everyone, and although we are not out of the woods yet, your film gives us hope. What was your inspiration for creating this film?
I, like everyone else, was grieving ‘life before the pandemic.’ As a yogi, I was seeking answers to know what attitude would be most helpful to move forward, in particular when so much is outside of our control. As a storyteller, I wanted to create a short film that would bring hope and comfort to others. I meditated on this premise, and the words in ‘Perseverance’ came to mind.
3. Eco-anxiety (conscious or unconscious worry about the future of the planet) is a growing trend, especially as we become increasingly impacted by climate change. How do you think eco-anxiety relates to the anxiety people had/have about the pandemic?
The pandemic and climate change share a common theme. Both are global challenges that are paradoxically within and outside of our control. In both circumstances, we’re relying on others to make decisions that benefit humanity when not everyone thinks the same way or has had similar experiences. By focusing on what others aren’t doing, we can become discouraged and even paralyzed to act. Sitting in anxiety instead. Additionally, we may feel the actions we do take are meaningless to create real change. As we know from history, one person’s passion for change starts a positive chain reaction.
4. What message do you have for our readers about how we should manage our anxiety (specifically our eco-anxiety)?
As a yogi, I believe repeated actions done out of love do make a difference. Additionally, any worthy accomplishments that benefit the planet and humanity require perseverance and a willingness to stay the course, even when contrary events occur. As allies for Mother Earth, even small repetitive actions such as picking up garbage, planting trees and sorting our recycling will benefit the planet. It always comes back to attitude and not losing our enthusiasm for small acts done with great love.
5. Your film features some really amazing visuals of British Columbia’s natural environment, how did your relationship with nature begin?
My early years were spent in a log cabin that my parents built near the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. As a young child, I ran with the wind, chased goats, spoke with the trees and flew on eagles. Exposure to the raw BC north fed my soul and my imagination. As a teen, I advocated for animals at the Edmonton SPCA and as a vet assistant. At lunch hour, we’d rent horses and go horseback riding. In nature and around animals, I’d experience relief from anxiety and expectation, always returning to myself, not who I felt I needed to be for others. As an inspirational filmmaker, I want to share the peace and acceptance I feel in nature with others.
6. Do you have an experience that you’d like to share about how nature has helped you balance/clear your thoughts?
Recently, I was feeling powerless about the pandemic, and I observed my thoughts were fearful. We were in Tofino, so I decided to sit in front of the ocean. I took off my shoes and began to breathe deeply. The waves came in and out. As I immersed myself in the sounds and movements of the waves, I experienced peace. Then I chose thoughts that affirmed my ability to handle what I was experiencing. Also, I reminded myself that not every thought or emotion needs an audience. In other words, I can let thoughts pass without attaching to them and becoming paralyzed by them.
7. What tips do you have for someone who is just discovering their relationship with nature?
Turn off your phone and step outside into any green space. Engage your five senses, what do you feel, smell, touch, hear and even taste? Relax into the moment and breathe. Don’t be in a rush to leave. When you find a place that feels really good, consider making it a part of your daily life. Carve out time in your calendar to be there. Make notes about thoughts and feelings you experience while outside. Be patient, Mother Nature wants to support us in our wholeness.
8. What do you think our society has learned from our experiences dealing with uncertainties of the future (be it the environment or the pandemic)?
Patience! Good things require persistence. Additionally, it’s progress, not perfection. Try not to get bogged down thinking this moment equals the future. Life won’t be perfect, but more people are working toward the common good than not. There are always reasons to be hopeful. There’s always something we can do!
9. What is next for you? Do you have any more films coming out? Or any new projects you are working on?
Yes! My mind is always percolating with inspiring ideas. I think my work will morph into documentary filmmaking, always with an underlying personal growth theme. All of my films can be found on my YouTube channel.
10. Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Enjoy Perseverance! There are many of us working in our own ways to support the planet. Keep perspective. Plant the seeds of love and let them sprout where they land.