In the recent posting ‘Venting,’ I suggested 2012 as a good year to consider letting go of a bunch of our customary excesses.
One of the ones I named was hypocrisy.
I’ve just become a shining beacon of hypocrisy myself!! So I’m stepping up to the plate to “call” myself on it before anyone else feels the need to do it for me.
I am doing a very un-Janet-like thing later today – hopping on a plane to go far away from where I live (outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada), for a vacation. Normally the most I do for a “holiday” is hop in a canoe, borrow a friend’s cottage, or housesit somewhere other than “home” (usually not very far from home).
5 years ago I did a carbon footprint calculation & discovered that flying around in airplanes adds considerably to one’s personal carbon footprint.
So I took a vow I’d allow myself only one more flight (my daughter was then living in Spain & I thought that would be my destination). I took the “one last flight” (it turned out to be Florida) 4 years ago now, after a very close friend treated me to a trip after her partner’s death, so we could scatter his ashes where he used to deep-sea dive.
Since then I’ve either stayed pretty close to home or ridden buses occasionally long distances (e.g. Deep River, Ontario to Vancouver, B.C. & back, to Washington, to Chicago).
When you live on a tiny income, not flying here, there & everywhere is a no-brainer. It isn’t hard at all.
But doing this from a conviction about trying to minimize one’s contribution to climate change is definitely considered way-out-there oddball by pretty much everyone I know. (I seldom even mention I’m doing such a thing, because it might make it look as though I’m accusing others of not being concerned about climate change.)
Even after 22+ years of activism, it is still true that most people I know seem to view measures designed to lower our personal carbon footprints as … oddball. (Of course I’m long since used to being viewed as an oddball, so for sure that doesn’t keep me up nights!!)
So here I am, flying off south with friends for a one-week vacation, & as giddy as a child about it! (Of course I am frequently as giddy as a child – this being my gift as an Aries person, Aries people being the so-called “infants of the Zodiac.”)
<Feb. 17/12 – 1 week later>
Well. Now here I am at the tail end of my Arizona trip. Can’t deny it’s been pretty darn fun.
We’re staying in a friend’s very lovely home in the suburbs of Phoenix. We’ve walked, talked, drunk lots of beer & amaretto, laughed lots, had a 2-day visit to Sedona & area that was very fun indeed, & my friends have done lots of shopping (with very little patience for shopping, I mostly took a pass on that). Fun-fun-fun.
It’s a different world entirely here than the one I inhabit!!
My friends & I are very different people.
But then I often feel like “odd woman out,” one way or another. I am “too serious.” I’m sure people often want to say “Janet – lighten up already!” Often, I wish I could!!
I wish (in some ways) that I could just think never or hardly ever about things like waste & pollution & climate change & nuclear madness & social injustice of a thousand kinds.
The possible/likely demise of the human race.
Oh well, eh?? I’ve been like this most of my life. It is not something new.
Tomorrow I’ll fly back to Reality. On Monday I’ll return to “work” – the things I do on a regular basis. Writing – activism – trying to change the world. When I hang out with fellow activists, I generally don’t feel like an alien.
Yet I love these friends I’m here with. We have a lot of shared history, even if our views – & lives – are very, very different.
(One thing this week has reinforced is that we need not be “like everybody else” in order to get along. We can be quite vastly different – yet still have plenty in common.)
Still, I continue to believe we are heading for a very unforgiving brick wall – as a culture, as a species – & it concerns me plenty. Apathy will probably always infuriate me – at least when I focus on it, that is, & mostly I won’t, since we all know what we focus on expands, right??
I came up with another original Janet McNeill saying while in Sedona, navigating my way across wet rocks that were kind of high up, while sporting rather inadequate footwear.
“Stay on the path. Don’t look down.” It’s a pretty good accompaniment to another of my originals: “Cut your losses. Go where the energy is.”
p.s. & if my friends return here next year, will I join them? Can’t say for sure. Possibly. Next time, though, for sure I will take the train!!
p.p.s. how extraordinary! Went to check on blog stats right after posting this & found someone had been sent to this blog via a query & landed on the posting 'Flying Kills,' which I'd entirely forgotten about! Life can be very odd indeed, can't it??
Runners-up: “We are privileged, and the duty of privilege is absolute integrity.” – John O’Donohue, Irish poet, philosopher & former priest
“I’m proud to be counted as one of the lunatic idealists who passionately endorse the notion of a better, safer, kinder world.” – Singer Annie Lennox in Resurgence (Jan/Feb 2007) quoted in Ode, a magazine “for intelligent optimists,” May 2007
“We are made aware of the proverbial forks in the road of life from an early age. Whether at commencement or from the pulpit, we are told there is a convenient path, and a less traveled road of integrity. From a Buddhist perspective, the adage is infinitely true. We face such forks a million times a day, even in the space of a breath. Life is permeated with possibility at every instant. What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing that we can control. Rosa Parks’s intentions were deep and unswerving, as were King’s, Thoreau’s, and Gandhi’s; so, too, were Jo Ann Robinson’s and Virginia Durr’s. While the events of the world were out of their control, their resolve was not.
Maybe the best way to understand the future implications of the movement’s daily actions is to remember Emerson’s moral botany: corn seeds produce corn; justice creates justice; and kindness fosters generosity. How do we sow our seeds when large, well-intentioned institutions and intolerant ideologies that purport to be our salvation cause so much damage? One sure way is through smallness, grace, and locality. Individuals start where they stand and, in Antonio Machado’s poetic dictum, make the road by walking. Thoreau insisted in Civil Disobedience that if only one man withdrew his support from an unjust government, it would begin a cycle that would reverberate and grow. For him there were no inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction: ‘for it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever.’” Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming <Pg. 84-5>