Thursday, June 14


This morning I had an appointment and I'd planned all week to drive in to work to make the time fit. But when I got up this morning, I was actually brainstorming about how to walk/ride my bike/take the bus and make the time work. I ended up driving anyway, but it felt really weird. If it is the consuming that is feeling weird and the conserving that is comforting and normal, I must be making change.

One anxiety I've had is what the folks I work with would think of me. But two weeks ago, in sending an invitation to the office to participate in Bike to Work day, one of my co-workers said that she hasn't driven to work since March. And last week, two of the managers in my suite biked in on at least one day. This week I've had good exchanges with the coworker who's on Weight Watchers and trying to walk more, an engineer who bikes in regularly, and the afore-mentioned message-sender. So I'm experiencing some very real belonging, if not actual support. This is nice. In my home life, I've talked with four close friends and in spite of sharing a concern about the state of the world and shopping at natural food stores and taking other conservation measures, none of them are ready to re-think the assumptions they make about driving.

I get frustrated, but I think "ready" is the operative word. Four months ago I was happy that I'd cut my commute in half by moving. One month ago, I started to realize that I'd bought the car I'm driving to try to cover 100% of my driving, instead of shopping for the far more practical and economical 90% of my driving. And then it wasn't until Low Impact Week that I was ready to see my life schedule as flexible enough to encompass an hour of walking and 40 minutes of reading every day (that's the bus commute).

And that adds up to a kind of coming-out process. Being willing to be identified as others as something different from an assumed "normal." For most office jobs in the US it is "normal" to drive an SUV a half hour to work each day, eat processed food, work out in a gym, and then go shopping for more stuff to put in the 2000 sq ft home you share with one other person. But "normal" isn't healthy, or responsible, or even practical. It wasn't normal for our parents, it's just what it seems like every one else is doing. Or rather... what the people we notice are doing. And who are the people we notice? The ones we choose to look for. Bit of a catch-22 there. Look for people who are doing what you want to do and you'll find 'em, whether that behavior is actually healthy and happiness-making or not.


P~ said...

* * * *(can you hear it? It's me clapping)* * * *
I loved this post. I have so felt the same way. I'll be doing something in the kitchen and go to grab a paper towel and hesitate, then I'll say to myself, "Oh it's ok to use a paper towel once and a while... don't get all obsessive about it!" And the funny part is I lose the argument with myself. It just doesn't feel right to use it when I can use one of the cloths that are a little further out of my way. I totally agree that since Low Impact week I find myself feeling more comfortable doing the hard thing than doing the easy thing. COOL Huh?!

Oldnovice said...

I loved the post, too. There's an awareness that wasn't there before and that's a good thing, I think. I'm not willing to go as far as some in the quest to lessen my impact, but I sure think about how I could be doing better in some areas and attempt to compensate by reducing consumption in areas in which I feel more comfortable.

rhonda jean said...

You're right. This is not normal, this is an anomaly. How many years have people lived without eating processed everything, or by driving where they want to go to. Normal, in respect to what most people do, has been to grow vegies in the backyard, cook from scratch and make do with what they had.

The trick now, is to live our lives using the technology available within a sustainable model. I wish you the best in doing that, it looks like you've made a really good start.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.