We have this great picture of Isabella that Michelle had blown up on poster board some time back. Strictly speaking, of course, the poster is not in the No Impact project’s non-consumption rules. I bit my tongue.
Then, we had to mount the poster. Michelle came home with some of that sticky putty, which was, again, new and not in the rules. I can’t tell you how many times the picture fell on our heads and we stared at gooey putty drooping off the wall for a day or two before finally putting the poster back up. The putty didn’t work.
Finally, this morning, Michelle had some double-sided mounting tape, and the next thing I am quietly obsessing over whether Michelle bought it new or whether we already had it. You know, like: OMYGOD! THE END OF THE WORLD HAS COME. THERE IS SOMETHING NEW IN OUR HOUSE! MICHELLE HAS WRECKED THE PROJECT!
What is wrong with me?
Michelle has been incredible about No Impact and she hasn’t bought a single new thing except the poster, the putty and the double-sided tape. She’s being amazing. We’ve reduced our resource consumption hugely. And we’ve done it without it really hurting ourselves. But still, I find myself all worried.
You know what it is? It’s living in the gray. I can’t stand it. I want everything to be all or nothing, black or white, because if it’s one thing or another, I don’t have to pay attention. I can just go back to sleep. It’s all tidy and taken care of, and I can be dead to the world. But, um, isn’t this project about waking up?
I’m attaching to the rules of the project the way I used to be attached to my desire for consumer items. That’s no good. It’s like attaching to the rites of a religion instead of its spirit. Because the rules are really just supposed to be guideposts. They are the finger pointing to the moon, but they are not the moon. The job of the rules is to help us treat the planet with self-restraint and kindness, but they are not the actual self-restraint and kindness.
If I stay awake, though, maybe I can finally realize—and Michelle is much smarter than me when it comes to this—that sometimes the kindest thing to do for the planet is to break the rules in order to spread some joy. My lovely wife did that today by getting the most adorable picture of my little girl, who I am so amazingly in love with, and blowing it up super big, buying brand new double sided tape and putting the picture up on our living room wall for all to see.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.