Occasionally I hear groans when I bring up my 47,000th environmental, human rights, sustainability or health concern -- groans of Ah, Live Your Life! Be Happy! To this I say: I am happy. I am happiest when devouring information.
I'm with Wendell Berry: "Be joyful though you've considered all the facts."I may not dwell on the many quandaries of modern life (pollution, finances, chemical contamination, nutritional demands vs. taste vs. time etc. etc.), but I'm surely going to consider them. Closely (smile).
Hey, everybody's fascinated by something. Everyone's trying to grow. I may not be simpatico to your goals. But I am taking my own little baby steps. Laughing at myself, recognizing my limits, and staying open to new information.
The best thing you've ever done for meI hope we can up the kindness level when it comes to self-assessment on whatever front matters to us. Because that's usually what's going on, right? Every single person I know is trying extremely hard to be a conscientious steward of our world's resources and to do the best for themselves and their loved ones. And every single person I know is too busy trying to figure out how to balance the 47,000 things they value to judge someone else for their choices. (Yes, I do live in a kind of Lake Wobegon of spectacular adults, as a fatter of mact.)
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all
(Love those Indigo Girls!)
So when one of my nearest and dearest emailed me in a panic about what to do about flowers because she was having a house guest and couldn't find pesticide-free, fair trade flowers that wouldn't deplete her retirement account, I realized I had to toss some love in her direction (I know you're reading!) and address effort. Effort is important. And so is being kind to yourself and recognizing that many different things have value. For the wonderful woman in question, being one of the kindest hostesses on the planet is a pretty important factor to consider. Human relationships matter.
I've been thinking about this for awhile in terms of my own self-improvement efforts, and as usual, found lots of inspiration from others. Here is some commentary on seeking perfection while working for change that really spoke to me. Turning to some of my daily blog-reads:
- In response to a reader question about which type of cooking source was the most environmental choice, Greenpa at Little Blog in the Big Woods responded: What kind of cooking do you do? What kinds do you LIKE to do? Are you allergic to woodsmoke? Do you enjoy cutting, splitting, handling firewood, or are you really too busy? How much "extra" time do you have- either to wrangle wood, or propane containers?- Etc. Hopefully you get the idea. Who you are- what you need- and even what makes you happy- all these considerations are genuinely IMPORTANT to the answer. You are important. We need to remember that. "Sustainable" practices WON'T be- if they make people miserable, and they won't stick to them. Which seems obvious, but quite a few enthusiasts will, in the excitement of the moment, adopt practices that they can't/won't - uh, sustain. Because in their enthusiasm for the greater good, and the benefit to the planet, they forgot- WE are part of the planet we're trying to save here- and we matter, too.
- Then there's the interviews Tiny Choices does with regular folk like you and me. One interviewee named Frank Gibson had this to say when asked, "What is the one environmental Tiny Choice you would like every single person to adopt?" Honestly, I would like everybody to simply start thinking! Thinking about their purchases, their employment, their transport, their food, their government, and the Big Picture. We can’t all be experts on climate change, or agribusiness, or civic engineering, but we can all do the things that we know for sure will help, starting on a household scale.
- It's like ZenHabits author Leo noted in this post about trying to eat more healthily: How did I get from Point A (junk food junkie) to Point B (much healthier diet)? I’ll let you in on my secret (and it’s not a secret if you’re one of the many people who discovered this already): I didn’t go from Point A to Point B. It’s more like Point A to Point Z, with lots of points in between.