This photo (sorry for the poor quality) shows one half of an empty basketball court that I've ridden past many times during my car-less vacation in Greenport. It's in someone's back yard.
Never once have I ever seen anyone playing basketball on it.
And I thought: some dad or mom might have worked so hard to earn the money and maybe dreamed of one day building a basketball court for their child.
It's the big idea. It's the American Dream. We've made it if we have our own basketball court or tennis court or swimming pool. We have this idea that each of us should own everything for ourselves.
The point here is that each of us owning these things for ourselves imposes huge costs on the planet we depend upon for our health, happiness and security.
And the paradox is that what makes basketball courts and swimming pools fun is friends and community. It's the using it with others. The sharing.
What a waste it is if we're using these resources in ways they don't even make us happy. What a waste if, on top of that, we're spending our days to pay for these useless resources.
What a waste, in other words, if it turns out that the way of life that is killing our planet is also killing our spirits.
If my point isn't clear, look at the picture of the New York City basketball court below.
Who's having more fun? The kid who owns his own lonely basketball court (high resource use) or the kids who share a community basketball court (much lower resource use)?
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.