The deadline is fast approaching, but I'm still hoping for more emails of support for my meeting with Representative Nadler on Friday afternoon. As you know, I will be asking him to help steer the country towards meaningful climate policy. Click here for details and to see how you can help. Now, onwards...
I had an email today from someone calling himself a "hi-tech environmentalist." What he meant by this was that his work and lifestyle choices tug him in opposite directions. "I have one side of my life which pulls towards a consumerist, energy-intensive lifestyle," he wrote, "and my other side pulls me towards slowing down, doing everything from scratch, reduce, reuse, recycle, etc."
He wanted know if I had "encountered similar issues or people who dealt with the same thing and had any words of wisdom."
Words of wisdom I'm not so sure, but experience in this realm I do have:
First off, welcome to being a human being! I want an iPhone, too, but don't yet have one (please just die, I tell my second-hand Treo, so I can move onto a second-hand iPhone). Oh, hell, who am I kidding. I'll never get an iPhone (read why here and here).
But what helps me about the psychic push-me-pull-you (I want, I don't want, I want, I don't want) is that I get to understand the rest of middle-class America and Europe--seeing as I am, after all, a member thereof--and it gives me insight into the challenges we face if our culture is to confront the challenge of consuming less.
Desire seems to be at root of the human condition--at least of my human condition. At first, you want food and water. Then, you want shelter. Then, you want toys. Then you want better food and better toys and better shelter and then you want better and then better and more and more.
Studying myself during No Impact, one thing that I discovered was my desire does not go away when the focus of the desire is achieved. It just focuses on something else. In other words, it isn't cured by getting what I want.
That means that my wanting is just a condition and that chasing after what I want is kind of foolish since it won't actually make the want go away. This is not a teaching for the hungry and the thirsty. But for someone like me, who has his basic needs met, it has the potential to provide freedom.
If I accept that want is just like an ache that rises and falls of its own accord and that it can't be fixed, I can stop trying to fix it. I can live my life according to the things I really care about instead of according to the changing winds of my capricious desires.
In other words, understanding the nature of desire allows me to pursue a life of meaning and purpose instead of a life of chasing things.
Well, at least some of the time. That's the theory. I mean, who am I kidding? I still want that iPhone. But I'm not getting it. But I'd still like it.
Everybody will now probably think I'm a kook. Well, they've got that right!
PS By the way, so many bloggers did me the kindness of transmitting my call of support for my visit to Congressman Nadler. Here is a random listing by blog post title of a few that I took from Google alerts. Go visit them and tell them thanks.
- No Impact Man Needs Your Help!
- Make a Difference on 350
- Help No Impact Man Save Us All
- Help No Impact Man Have an Impact
- Guest blogger: No Impact Man
- Sunday Collection: Stardust
- No Impact Man, Global Climate Change Policy Action
- Getting The Word Out About 350 — Something Worth Doing
- Do you have time for a favor?
- Doing my (little) part
- Support for No Impact Man, Colin Beavan
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.