I've decided that I need to pay a great deal more attention to the way I'm living and impacting the world and people around me. I started a new blog to help crystallize my thoughts on the matter, but decided that since that's a part of me, why wouldn't I include it here? (It's easier to keep track of, too.) These are the posts that I had there, minus the pictures, which I will post separately. I'm sure there will be more to come.
More with less, less is more, more or less... all of the simple blog names were taken (and most of those have never been updated since their inception). Hence the kind of long name. I was given a cook book called "More with Less" by a wonderful friend, and have been thinking about the philosophy behind it over the past few days.
As an educator, I like to think of education as the primary need of people around the globe, but really - if someone doesn't have food, water, shelter, and necessary meds, there isn't going to be much learning taking place. Being responsible about the food I consume may not have an immediate impact on a child's hunger in Banlgladesh, but I think it is certainly important to be a conscious consumer.
This is my journey, trying to figure out how.
While I want my life to be relatively simple, I take issue with the marketing of simplicity with the goal of enticing people to buy stuff. Real Simple magazine, for example. While I enjoy the magazine, I hate it at the same time. The 'recipes' in it are combinations of prepared foods (for a 'homemade' dessert, take a box of cake mix, a tub of Cool Whip and some strawberry jam, for example) and there are whole sections of the magazine to tell you what to buy (the best pasta sauce, plastic wrap, etc.) While the magazine touts 'simplicity' it really means 'time-savers'. I like magazines in general because you can pick them up whenever and it doesn't generally require much thoughtfulness to read them. And I like ones about home, decorating, cooking, because those are things I enjoy. I would like to find one that actually encourages people to buy and waste less rather than more. Does such a magazine exist? Who would sponsor it?
This whole topic is such a war within myself - while part of me wants so badly to live simply and in an ecologically responsible way with every decision I make, there is another part of me that loves the way advertising presents things, and I think a tiny part of me even believes that if I buy this particular item, that says something about me. This is really scary - that I have been trained to think in this way! How do I undo it?
This is an amaryllis I have started; it has begun its rapid growth spurt, which will hopefully result in some gorgeous red blooms before too long. I was taking some pictures of things I have growing around the house today, and was thinking about the pleasure that can be taken in them. The growth of them is beyond our capacity to control; we simply provide a conducive environment suited to the plant and hope for the best. Thinking about doing my small part to make the earth a little greener, a lot can be said for growing one's own food. Of course, it's not always possible, and I'm not planning on starting a greenhouse in my living room. But I've been thinking about how to go about growing tomatoes indoors over the winter, after suffering through one too many mealy overpriced ones from the grocery store. Not only will growing my own provide better tasting tomatoes, but that will be one less food item that has gone through who knows what process to arrive here. I'm not sure how well this will work out, since they require so much sun, but I can always give it a go.
Another small yet significant change I made awhile ago that I was thinking about today is switching from using plastic wrap to wax paper when something in the microwave needs to be covered. I always hated throwing the hot, shrinky wrap in the garbage, and I just don't like the idea of melty plastic sticking to my food ("Will you have some carcinogens with that soup, Ma'am?"). The wax paper can also be composted (Nova Scotia has a very good recycling program; they pick up everything, including compostable materials.) One thing at a time.
A picture I took of the cookbook I mentioned in an earlier post, which has contributed to this whole blog and a new way of thinking about 'stuff'.
A few things have come to my attention over the past week (super busy with work and courses makes for a non-blogging Sherrie) that I'm trying to straighten out in my mind.
1. Wal-mart opened here a few weeks ago. As much as I don't like Wal-Mart for their greediness, treatment of employees, etc. I still have this inclination to go and see what they have (mainly for soap scents and a couple other craft things I can't find at other stores here). I don't want to spend my money supporting the corporation, so I figure the best way is to just avoid going in the first place. But part of me still wants to... here is that war within me thing again.
2. Adam brought a group pf people to my attention earlier this week. A group of people in the San Francisco bay area have decided that they are not going to buy anything new for a year (aside from underwear, groceries, and things related to safety.) It is so true that we don't need more stuff, and why not get it second hand? The Compact is what they're called, and I like a lot of things about their philosophy. Their blog is here.
3. The Freecycle Network is another thing of interest that came to my attention this week. The idea is that people in any particular area get connected online if they have free stuff to give away or if they need something. Everything's free, no payment of any kind. A neat idea, although I do see some potential for problems, like having strangers come to your house to pick things up, or having people who only post things that they want. I guess anything's got potential for problems, though.
4. Conversation cafes - to me, the whole less is more thing kind of means moving away from isolation from other people as well as moving away from our habits of buying buying buying. Maybe because when you're buying from a farmer's market, you actually meet and talk with the person who grew the produce and it seems to go back to the way things were before box stores... anyway. Conversation cafes do seem a little strange (getting together with strangers to discuss issues of importance) - it kind of seems that we should be discussing these things with the people we love. I do understand, though that sometimes that just doesn't work - many people don't want to think beyond their everyday existence, so finding a group of people who do is pretty neat. Socrates cafe is kind of similar - very interesting.
I'm certainly not an expert on the topic, but it seems that art (in general) has a lot to do with the connectivity of people. Perhaps because it connects people across space and time in a way that nothing else does. It's a way of represting ourselves that encompasses so much of who we are that you can't help but feel connected to someone when you experience their work.
I've been trying to figure out this 'connectivity' and not getting very far with articulating it. But I think that's a good start. On to supper.
This is the point at which the amaryllis has progressed; no sign of flowerage yet. Kind of like my thoughts about art and connectivity and such - definitely making progress, but no grand finale yet. Which brings me to the book I started today. It's called Socrates Cafe (I think the author is Chris Phillips, I don't have it right here) and is an account of this guy trying to pursue the socratic method of inquiry in our current North American society. Very interesting. I'm eager to get into the book further - I wonder how a Socrates Cafe would fly in Yarmouth? I think some interested people might come out of the woodwork. Could be interesting...
Thoughts I've come to today about my thoughts: as with my possible dud amaryllis, maybe there is no grand finale. Perhaps it's a long series of questions and realizing more and more how little you know while coming to a fuller appreciation of the world and people around you.