To Find Balance

Last night I watched a documentary that spoke to me in too many ways to count. No Impact Man follows a family of three in New York City, as they venture out to consume less, and produce ideally no waste- for a year. Not only was it moving in the environmentalism aspect, but what stood out to me was the message about Community, Family and having a relationship with the Earth beneath our feet.

When Colin Beavan spoke about community, he stressed the importance of it. The lack of community our society has developed is truly linked to sickness, pollution, poor diet, disease and an overall disconnect. It seems that we are farthest away from the things closest to our being- to our very physical location. If you can tell me you know and could rely on your neighbors for anything, I’d say good for you; you’re probably above average. If you can tell me you take part in community events, community gatherings, efforts and projects, I’d say good for you; you’re working towards the heart of the issue.

Criticism hit hard as Beavan’s family began this journey, with many critics saying things like “The Year of no Toilet Paper, but Plenty of Ass.” His response; why does it have to be critical- how about this?

“The year I lost 20lbs. without going to the gym once. Or the year we didn’t watch TV and became much better parents as a result. Or the year we ate locally and seasonally and it ended up reversing my wife’s prediabetic condition.”

Forget analyzing why someone is doing something, accept that they’re doing it and learn to be humbled by their eagerness to grow with an open mind- maybe even grow to take on that way of thinking yourself.

I think within our communities we have become so disconnected from one another that, like Beavan says, we have no one to hold us accountable for our actions. We think I’ll recycle, I’ll eat more veggies, I’ll walk instead of the bus. These things aren’t enough- it needs to start as a front, a front beginning with an entire community. Though focused on diet, Gene Stone in Forks over Knives says,

“Consider this: If the entire U.S. population were to adopt a plant-based diet for just one day, the nation would conserve the following resources*: • 100 billion gallons of drinking water, enough for every person in every home in New England for nearly four months • 1.5 billion pounds of crops, enough to feed the population of New Mexico for over a year • 70 million gallons of gasoline, enough to fuel every car in Canada and Mexico • 33 tons of antibiotics.”

Now this is just to highlight the importance of what Beavan had done. The documentary hardly touches on the fact that with his ‘environmentally conscious’ meals & product consumption, they were able to reverse his wife’s pre-diabetic condition; on diet and consumption alone. How do these things not register with people?! They are stone. cold. facts.

“Unfortunately, the link between diet and health is still not well understood by many doctors, who are not required to take courses on nutrition in school, and who therefore rely on pills and procedures to treat patients.” -Gene Stone; Forks Over Knives

These things motivate me. They make me want to bring the message into the lives of others. I’m only one person, I have only but two hands- but the changes I wish to bring with them, that’s on me. Beavan speaks about the relationship he was able to cultivate with the Earth through this year of sustainability. He said it took that year of “going without” to create an environment for him to foster a relationship between himself and the very dirt he walks on. Though every square inch may be covered with sidewalks and buildings, he fosters this relationship through work in a community garden. Something I will be blessed to work among this coming Summer.

Fostering a relationship with the Earth is a healing journey. Touch the dirt, understand the potentials it holds. Fathom the power of elements and what the could provide for humankind, should we turn our ignorant minds to the possibilities. Now think, with this dirt alone I can foster nourishment for myself and my family, with this dirt, sunlight and water; I can be humbled. 

I have struggled to find humbling thoughts while stuck at this job, in this cubicle, in this ghetto town so full of everything but community. I have struggled to see the light at the end of the tunnel, to see my path clear or to understand how I truly will accomplish my goals. I fight every day to push through- despite weary hearts from Family Members, despite “knowing better,” I have to find the balance between reality and the fast-track to my dreams. When I do find this, it is my hope that I will be humbled by my progress and continue to move forward in a way that will put pride on the faces of my Family Members, and calm worries they might have had about my decisions. I want 100% support, but perhaps by not having it; this will propel me forward that much faster to success- that is the hope.

Ask yourself, is it possible to have a good life, without wasting so much?


To Define Who You Are

Happy Almost Friday-day… Which leaves me sitting in a cubicle trying to either stay awake or looking forward to my next trip to the vending machine (what a drag these are my daily highlights). Where are my fields to culture, my fruit to sew, my land to stand on- pitchfork in hand I’ll command my earth chunk- With you I shall create! With you I shall grow! With you I shall feed! The timeline for evolving into myself seems light-years away…

A seemingly simple task at hand. Define yourself. Not in 3 words, not using specific words, it’s open. You can use as many words as you want. What does your definition entail? At one point in my life the only definition I had for myself was through another person. I defined  myself as that person. I had no single identity nor did I understand the importance of defining yourself.

Think about it, again, seems simple. I challenge you to sit down and truly think or write out what defines you, what turns your thoughts into actions, what makes you tick. Where does your motivation come from? What drives you to be better? What is it, What is it?!

Personally I have been fortunate enough to move on from a place in my life that was dark, drab and unwelcoming in every definition of the word. I had no identity, I had allowed someone to take that away from me. I couldn’t even hold them responsible, I had no one to blame but myself. What point does a person need to hit before they turn away? Rock bottom, that’s where. I am blessed to have struggled with my identity. It forced me to define myself- now when I say define myself, this is a gradual conclusion not some outlandish, sun-on-my-sweet-cheeks epiphany, “I KNOW WHO I AM NOW.” No.

It’s taken years of work, but I have a relatively steady grasp on reality and who I am-  a feat.`The motivation to move forward in life has also fueled a motivation to dig deeper within myself. My mind is screaming I WANT TO MOVE MOUNTAINS. Keep in mind, friend, you are only one person… I tell myself this with frustration.  Part of what I want to define myself as is a teacher. More importantly for my family, they need to know how I feel about my passions- and why they’re important. That’s just it: I want to save everybody. (Whether or not they need saving) Pump the brakes child, you’ve got to start somewhere.

So begins my dream, I need to start some kind of outreach mission. We joked at dinner last night that everyone should have to serve two years in a restaurant & two years on a farm. For any of you who have worked in either of those fields: if that happened? That would move mountains. If there were I could do to show people the importance and power our food can provide for us, the importance of farmers and knowing where your food comes from and how it’s grown. If I could share with the world why it makes sense to live in houses made from recycled tires and plastered pop cans, if they knew that you don’t need 180 acres to provide nourishment for your family. If they knew why it was sensible to pee in a hole rather than waste nearly 3 gallons every time you flush a toilet and cook meals using earths long forgotten FLAME. I could go on, but I’m getting antsy and typing louder to get my point across is not effective (and it’s providing me with lovely stares as people walk past my cubicle.

PS… Fun website to estimate how much water you’re wasting =]

So Let’s Recap:

  • Grow your own food
  • Pee in a hole
  • Shower in the well
  • Cook in a fire
  • Sleep with the earth