Monday, February 25, 2008

Baby Steps, and Baby Yourself

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 me
Is to help me take my life less seriously
It's only life after all
(Love those Indigo Girls!)
I 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.)

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
I love the concept of kaizen or continual improvement. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps. Baby yourself...and let's baby each other.


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I love it--I am happiest when I am devouring information. Me too. My passion is education, but the principle is the same. Thanks for all your great information.

Lynn said...

Hey, I love your new signature! Very cool. And GREAT post...funny but I've been working on one with similar sentiments, but (as usual) my own spin...

Attila The Mom said...

Just love this post!!

Frank Gibson said...

Hey, mama! Thanks for the mention! Glad to have been inspirational. I am not sure whether I am happier consuming info, or disseminating it.

Scratch that, I do know, I am happiest when doing both simultaneously. I think it's called... Conversation!

“Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.” (-Anne Morrow Lindberg)

MamaBird said...

Thanks for the inspiration to begin with, Frank. Been sitting on it for awhile and letting it percolate! And yes, I guess you're right! I do love the ol' back and forth and that's just about why I am addicted to blogging. I get to write (which i love) and think about things, AND it's this big community so it's not as much navel gazing as... you're right, conversation. Anyways, thanks again. Loved your commentary...

Laura said...

I'm in agreement when you write: "Hey, everybody's fascinated by something. Everyone's trying to grow."

My passion is unschooling and gentle, respectful parenting. There are things that I believe in that I don't feel compelled to give my time and energy. I like when Quakers say, "I have a concern." Right now, my primary "concern" is the way that children learn by following their passions, and the way that children are treated. Hovering on the edge of my consciousness, waiting until I have satisfied my need to gather information and form ideas about this concern, are things like vegetarianism, peace-building, simple living, the environment. And more. I am reassured when I read about people who are undertaking these concerns, because I can explore their findings, make some connections. It's like we are all working together, connecting the dots, filling in the spaces.

I'm grateful for your exploration of and writing about your concerns, Mamabird. I admire your passionate interests. :) It's what I hope for my kids to find through their unschooling.