Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's the Berries - Or Is It?

One day I was walking Coco on a back road that we hadn't taken before. As we walked I noticed some deer droppings and thought, this is so cool. Deer must come along here. It is a very rare sight. When we lived in Michigan I used to see them all of the time. But here in Illinois, not so much.

On our way back we were closer to the deer droppings and I noticed that they weren't deer droppings at all. They were blue berries. Not the kind I enjoy to eat but some other kind. I had been so sure that they were deer droppings when I'd seen them before.

And I thought, isn't it interesting how our experiences become the lens we see the world through.

And I thought, this is why it is so important to keep an open mind. To give things a closer look. Because from a distance things aren't always what they seem.

When I read or watch a good documentary or program that teaches me something I am reminded that there is so much more to see; so much more to learn. I don't feel bad I don't know it all. I don't have an expectation that I should. I now realize this would be impossible and so I let it go. But I still enjoy learning.

I see conditions in the world and wonder how long will it take before we understand that this world has a fragile balance. And that we can either continue down a wasteful, consumptive, me-first path or we can open our eyes just a little bit more and consider that maybe, just maybe, we can do better. It is easy to wait around for somebody else to fix our problems. It is easy to let someone else do our thinking for us. But head in the sand or eyes wide open, searching the tree line, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that we are doing great harm to our planet. To the fresh water that has been polluted by acid rain and chemical runoffs from power plants and industries. It doesn't take much to understand that the air we breath is polluted and this affects the way we breathe and it is killing off all kinds of insects and birds. And it doesn't take much to realize that the few who are trying to grab control of our natural resources to put us between a rock and a hard place and then to squeeze the last bit of money out of us, has been happening for decades; generations.

It is so easy to get weary of the problems that are so far beyond our control until we realize; wait a minute, there is something I can do.

Personal responsibility and personal empowerment go hand in hand. Until I take responsibility for my choices I cannot see things differently or try new approaches to solving problems or thinking things through. And that is essential when we take steps toward empowerment.

We all know that we need to move away from oil and gas. We need to take care of our water and air. But how? Well, use less power and do more manually. Make every trip you take count by running errands to and from where you need to go. Turn down our hot water heaters - that made a huge difference in my utility bill. Insulate your attic if you have one. And get solar panels or save and get outdoor motion detector solar lights. Every little bit we can do will help us to save money so we can take another step toward making ourselves more independent.

I got to thinking about how much cars cost one day. And how much insurance costs. And how much gas costs. And then how much is costs to repair a car. New tires, new brakes and all sorts of sensors that are increasingly costing more and more to replace. And I thought, this is like a toll just so you can work. Just so you can get to the grocery store. To own, operate and insure a car takes as big of a chunk out of our income as it does to pay rent. And if you have to pay for parking and you live in a city that has high rates for tickets, add on an average of a few hundred dollars onto your yearly budget. It's ridiculous. I like these zip cars in Chicago. People can become a member and they can get a car and drive it somewhere and leave it in a lot and pay get something done and that's it. And the zip cars are also great on gas mileage. We need to start figuring out exactly how much do I need something and if it isn't all of the time, is there a way to make a change that will help to lighten my heavy load?

Every time we make a decision to do something we are supporting it. So figuring out what part we are playing in this huge dilemma we are creating is a key to figuring out what we really want to do about it. If riding bikes and wearing helmets when riding on streets where there are cars and trucks is a better option than spending money on owning a car in the city then maybe its time to look into companies like the zip car. We don't all need cars all of the time. So why throw a third of your income down the hole when it is a losing proposition? Those payments and that nice new shiny car doesn't mean anything.

So many people aren't willing to sacrifice what they think they should have right now for creating the life they would find interesting and fulfilling when it involves their image of what success means. I remember seeing these big houses that took up almost all of their lots in the suburbs in the nineties. Everyone of the new houses had these huge front doors. I thought, you are going to have to heat all of that. You are going to be paying taxes on all of that. And you don't have any woods or orchards or gardens around you. And I still feel that way.

When pretense, when how things appear, means more to us than being true to who we are and what we can afford, than whose life are we living anyway? If we are working sixty hours a week and can afford to buy things but we can't have a life of our own, where are we really going?

We can all do more with less.

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