29 March 2010

Infinite Possibilities, Finite World

We live in a world of infinite possibilities but we have finite resource. Something has to give.

I just came back from a "radical simplicity" weekend retreat with Jim Merkel. We spend a lot of time trying to quiet the mind...easier said than done. The location was beautiful, the weather was cold, we spent all day in dialogue and evenings by the fire. We observed Earth Hour and didn't really notice because we were socializing by candlelight and firelight...and what a bright moon that night.

Back to the point of this entry: usually when I think about sustainability I think about the world, what's fair, what's right, what can be done, etc. I think big and broad, not so much small and focused. This weekend I've had a chance to shake off some loose branches, refresh and regroup. I've learned to try to internalize my ideas...not that that was the intention of the retreat, but it's what I learned. I have to look at my life a lot closer. I have to sit down and go over all the nuts and bolts of my finances, my own consumption patterns, my goals. Although I'm a big thinker, I have to get a handle on where I am and what I am doing so I can quiet my mind.

I think doing this, going through this self-analysis will help me to release some stress and bring clarity to my life. Honestly, financial calculations are the last thing I want to do, I hate them with a passion. But...yes but...

Merkel has some good models to follow, and I will try them out. Here's what I think is going on...I'm consuming about 20 acres/pp with my current lifestyle and my goal is to consume less than 10 acres/pp. Yes indeed, it will be a radical simplification of my life...and my family's life.

And, I am going to give myself a break. I'm not going to beat myself up about not been the greenest of green; about having a less than successful garden last year; about an insane need to have that shirt in the window that would look perfect on me; about drooling over the iPhone and agonizing over the fact that my current cell phone works just fine.

I've learned a new way to think about sustainability. I'm changing my verb from 'perfect' to 'practice'. For example, I will practice change, not perfect change. I will practice gardening, not perfect it. Over time, I'll learn more, experiment and gradually will do better. I will try and accept failure for what it really is, success in progress.

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