So far this week:
When YES! Magazine suggested I write some blog entries for their No Impact Week effort, I was a little confounded. You see, we gave up our only car almost a year-and-a-half ago, after seriously downsizing our other “luxuries” like Internet, cable TV, eating at restaurants, or buying new clothes. We experienced a near-sudden loss of all income with the advent of the Great Recession, and after months of trying to hold on to what we had materially achieved over time, we stepped out of the race and joined hands with the others who were suffering similar hardship. Without really intending to, we became far greener in our habits.
Corbyn blogs at corbynhightower.com
It helps that we live in a sweet little bedroom community of Sacramento with a comfortable climate and amenities galore. When we initially downsized, we didn’t know what our world would look like in a year. But now, after the adjustments and scary shifts, we look around and see a life full of color and beauty.
But that feels like a long time ago, now. How could I translate what feels like yesterday’s news (for our household) and make it fresh? Could this week provide the impetus I need to renew my commitment to living with less?
It’s become a lifestyle for our family, one that was initially forced on us but that has become a point of pride. We are living more gently upon the land, buying less, growing more, and wanting for nothing. Being in a car now is a novelty and a surprise, and it happens rarely, only when a friend is taking us somewhere too far to cycle to.
We’ve forged relationships with neighbors that uplift our family and provide the kind of structure that had crumbled beneath us in 2008. I’ve built a writing career throughout this experience, and I really would like to think that we’re influencing people and helping them see that there’s life outside of the mall parking lot. But there are always things I could do better, and as I watch the months roll by that we live in this new, post-poverty existence, I see things that remind me of how far I need to go to live up to my goals as a global citizen.
For example: Is it really an achievement if I shop at thrift stores instead of big box stores, idly coveting things I don’t really need? I look around my house and I see vast drifts of Stuff. I know we can do better at jumping off the neverending cycle of Want, and I am certain I can teach my children that the coveting of things—even used, inexpensive things—is a sure path to dissatisfaction.
One of my goals this week is to help my children and myself let go of some of the vast excess in our home and in our lives, and to make inroads towards fixing whatever is broken inside us that needs filling with material objects. I know—that’s a huge undertaking, and foolishly optimistic that such a change could take place in a matter of days. But it’s a start, and it needs to happen. So for now, I’m going to focus on that goal, and I’ll let you know how it goes.