Is trying to help just part of the problem?
It is time I take an honest to goodness look at myself and my life and to focus on making the changes. I need to quit getting distracted by the computer and the internet. I need to feel substantial again and I can't do that while continually living in an electronic world.
Butuki has announced that he is taking a detour from his blog, leaving the online world for some real life. I somehow feel a loss, and wish that I had made all the comments on his site that I wanted to over the past year, always thinking "I'll drop in to comment over there tomorrow". I'm always inspired by his ability to write his deepest feelings, the kind of stuff that I shy away from. So, I'll try to dig a little deeper here, and clumsily ramble on about the thoughts that don't usually get expressed, even if it is only the tip of the iceberg.
I feel extremely envious at his will power and ability to give it up. I sit here every day at my computer, facing a large window watching the days go buy, thinking about what a pity it is that we are so cut off from the rest of the natural world, the system that allows us to live. The more I think about it, instead of getting out there and getting to know more about that system myself, I start to feel like I have so much more work to do, and that getting out there is wasting time I could be researching something, or writing a paper, or maintaining whatever is left of my web-development contacts so that maybe I can use those web skills to help.
I have been thinking so much lately about my recent revelation that everything we study here is worthless, every energy efficient car, every low watt light-bulb, every solar panel, every company that adopts a strategic framework for sustainability... it's all worthless because these are all moving forward within the boundaries of a faulty "vision". The very fact that I can't think of a better word than the tired, over-used "vision" is simply a sign of my lack of imagination, adding to the general lack of imagination that keeps people like us sitting behind the computer, trying to find ways to fix our current way of living, unable to see an entirely new way of living.
Recently, I have been evangelizing to the rest of my class for the use of blogs and other social networking tools to keep and build our connections as we move back into our old lives in the fall. It's stupid though. It's trying to fit what we want into a world that doesn't seem to want that for us. Yes, we want to keep the relationships we have built here. We don't want to say goodbye to people. We don't want to loose the opportunities that would arrise from those connections. But what if, instead of trying to hang so tightly to those connections, we had the vision and imagination to see a world where we have enjoyed learning from each other throughout the year, but when we leave, in the name of living what we are here to promote, we stop promoting the lifestyle that we are fighting. Instead of spending more hours in front of the computer to keep those connection, we are strong enough to say "It was great. I learned a lot. Perhaps we will see each other again, but keeping (or building) our connection to the real world, the 'natural' world of which we are a part, is most important." What if we had the vision and imagination to realize that whatever relationships we have built here don't need constant nurturing through email and other unsustainable long distance communications. What if I could agree to take what I have learned from each person here, and make that the connection, making time and space offline for new connections to learn new things from wherever I end up next?
I don't know if this makes any sense, and I don't want to take time to re-read it before I post it, so I will try to phrase it differently. I wonder if it all comes down to the fact that by telling ourselves we are trying to help, we are simply making things worse. The last and only hope is if we can break from the only reality we know, where the things we like and value should be kept at all costs. Instead, we have to learn to value new things. While I value the relationships I have made here, should I strive to maintain them at the expense of the very concepts which those relationships have been built on? It scares me to think that in the future I won't be able to free myself enough to spend time outside, understanding the system we are a part of. If I can't do that, why should I expect that anything that comes as a result of my work will allow anyone else to?
I guess people will argue that unless we mobilize and network to "get the message out" or promote "sustainable development" we will lose. But what if we have already lost? Is it like quicksand, where the more you struggle the faster you sink? Knowing that the tools we use to frantically promote sustainability are themselves part of the very problem, are we not simply causing ourselves to sink faster? Sure, if we stop struggling we will still sink, but maybe it would be better to sink calmly, at peace, living a life in line with our espoused values and beliefs. Maybe it would be better to enjoy the last bits of whatever we have that is good rather than fighting until there is nothing good left and nothing worth fighting for.