Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Low impact living for a high impact life

I think my philosophical meanderings over recent weeks have taken their toll on me a little and I am seeing the future through gloom tinted spectacles. Every goal I decide upon seems wanting somehow and I am once again paralysed by indecision.

So I have decided to start steering a course and hope I land up somewhere...nice. There are a couple of things that I know I want that I now recognize have drifted in and out of my consciousness since I was a child:

  • To own my own 'homestead', size to be determined at a later date when I have explored a few other activities I might want to incorporate into my daily existence. May range from terrace house with good garden to large permaculture farm away from 'civilization'. I would like to produce a good fraction of our food and perhaps even fibres (a girl's gotta knit; and possibly even weave by then!) and also be self reliant (not necessarily sufficient) in energy. There would be an outdoor 'room' space too, a porch or fire pit. No idea where in the world it would be, apart from near to the coast, somewhere you can look up and see stars, not sulphur lamp. Abroad appeals. 
  • To travel and have adventures, in a low impact way. I like the idea of packing a trailer and going bicycle touring. Perhaps a bit of trekking. There will definitely be tents and camp stoves and marshmallows. I think that this is something that Gus would enjoy too, even if I struggle to convince daddy of the merits of leaving his brum-brum at home.
  • To earn a living by being productive, by which I mean producing genuinely valuable goods - whether that be food, music, knitted clothing or good cheer - in the lowest impact way possible. 
  • To be involved in some kind of ecological restoration - whether that be forest planting, beach clean ups or a bit of guerilla gardening.
  •  To spend more of my hours in good company. I have a tendency to be a bit of a recluse, yet really enjoy the company of good friends when I manage to get it together and get in contact. 
  • To be proficient in a (portable, probably stringed) musical instrument. Because the above campfires/porch/friends/marshmallows are not going to provide their own soundtrack.
  • I would like to be fluent in another language, because I think that being able to read and speak and comprehend another cultures language will open windows on the world to savour. Again, I don't know which one...perhaps more than one.
That's my list. I know that it isn't very precise, is apt to change and as yet has no measurable targets and mini goals attached to it. But just reading it makes me feel more positive about the future. I have something to aim for, but the striving for it, unlike so many of the other life goals I have contempleated, does not require me to place an unsustainable burden on the biosphere and doesn't induce massive amounts of guilt - or debt. It seems doable in a world with a significantly reduced energy supply and consumption too.

In Depletion and Abundance, the author Sharon Astyk talks about the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam, or 'the repair of the world'. Whilst it no doubt has specific connotations within Jewish culture, I like the idea that it conjures up for me, the idea that I could; and should; contribute something meaningful to the world, to mend that which is broken. The place to start is of course with my own life, by first minimising the harm that I could be doing. Anything on top of that is just gravy that makes life a joy to live.

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