That's my little girl Isabella's Teddy. He's forty years old. Back when my wife was a little girl, her own mother brought Teddy home from Italy. He's so well made that he's lasted all this time.
Lots of nights we have talks about Teddy. Isabella wants to know about when her mom was little and how she played with Teddy, too.
As things age, they collect stories. Stories of our families that connect us to them.
In my own case, I have a pair of my grandfather's cufflinks and his watch. When I have to give a talk or go to a meeting that tests my confidence, I wear them. It makes me feel like something about him is there backing me up.
In other words, when things are made well, and they last, we can often get way more pleasure from them than we might from something new. We come to cherish our things. We come to cherish our lives.
Yet, these days, instead of making things to last, manufacturers make things to break. Everything from poorly made Teddy bears to watches you throw away when the battery runs out to cell phones and even fridges.
When you think about it, it's crazy.
Things are built to break or go out of date, so that we have to work really hard to buy the same things over and over again. Meanwhile, remaking all of this stuff plunders our planetary resources and makes for clouds of carbon dioxide which causes global warming.
What if we only had to buy our possessions once? Our telephones, once. Our computers, once. Our furniture, once. Our watches, once. Our teddy bears, once.
Maybe the objects we surround ourselves would end up being like old friends. Maybe, with having to manufacture so much less, we'd end up with is a more healthy planet along with a lot more fond memories.
Shopping is an American social pastime, but the problem is that shopping from "want," instead of from "need," causes the use of planetary resources we can't afford to burn. We talked about this a little here.
Yesterday, I mentioned how much fun my daughter Isabella had running out to a farm field to harvest vegetables. Harvesting? Shopping? Harvesting? Shopping?
Wait! Aren't they kind of the same thing?
Here are the excellent thoughts on the subject of a regular reader and commenter, who calls herself Linda from Deerfield:
keep thinking about Isabella being thrilled by "going out into the
field to harvest a squash". Am I imagining things, or does this not
point to a gloriously healthy direct substitute for shopping?
I read about a potato farmer who ran out of harvest time and
profitability, so he invited the public to dig their own and take them
home -- much to his surprise, literally thousands came. I once took my
friend and little one to a rural orchard, mistakenly assuming that few
people had discovered the delight of an afternoon plucking apples and
sipping cider -- I was stunned by the huge line of families in cars
waiting to pay their fee and gain entry.
There is evidently a great hunger within us to harvest our own food,
but still we stand by and let the orchards and farms fall to developers.
Ask my little girl Isabella what she wants to eat and it's either a. grilled cheese sandwich or b. peanut butter and jelly. Suggest that she should eat her spinach, broccoli or brussels sprouts first and you get an encyclopedic explanation of why she can't eat it--it doesn't taste good, it's too hot, you have to chew it too much, etc etc etc.
But the other weekend we stayed with our friends Rachel and Steffen Schneider at Hawthorne Valley Farm (from which we buy our produce as part of local eating). Rachel took Isabella out into the field to harvest a squash and then they cooked it together. Isabella wolfed it down.
The picture above shows Isabella with a squash she picked out of our own community garden today. We also harvested some lettuce. Isabella can't wait to eat them both.
So, if your child is anything like mine, here is what you have to do to get your child to eat just about any vegetable: let them grow it for themselves!
See that picture? That's where I stayed last week for some quick R & R in the countryside. An incredibly beautiful place.
At lunch one day, I briefly met two women, sitting at the next table. While I was eating, I overheard one say to the other, "Do you think there will be enough shops in town to keep us occupied?"
Here we were, on a mountain. By a lake. With horses. And canoes. My new friends were only here for one day. But the only thing they could think to do was leave and go shopping.
I'm not judging. I just feel sad.
I think we tend to know what we're taught. And instead of being taught to enjoy our beautiful habitat, so many of us have been taught to shop, and by the associated resources use, contribute to its destruction.
If a mountain is reflected in a lake, and we're all too busy too notice, is it still beautiful?
Click here Two years ago we launched the No Impact Project, a charitable effort to get new citizens engaged in the quest for a way of life that is both good for our habitat and for people. As a result, people around the world are getting involved and making an effort. Please click on the link to find out more and to financially support our efforts.