Modern human. A poison to this earth.
Last week I had a few challenging days. Personally challenging. I’d been trying to make a point, as serious point, but alas my execution was flawed and the message was lost as a result. My passion morphed into anger and frustration at ‘the situation’ (see above) and I in turn manifested into a wild beast. I felt cornered, like a bobcat stuck up a tree I had no option but to attack to protect myself. It was not a pretty few days.
My mind was working overtime, my emotions drained. It’s funny how one can be effected by people they have never meet in the real world. On a personal level I take it pretty hard. Especially when the comments are derogatory, unfounded and completely far from reality. Many of us have two lives. Online and real world. They sometimes intermingle, sometimes online can manifest into real world, and my real world life is told as a story online. A double edged sword you might say.
Troubled by what had passed, I decided some time out in the paddocks would be of value. I had to figure out the best way to deal with this seemingly ongoing challenge. With my back resting against the fence, the cool grass as a cushion I sat with my eyes closed, trying to make sense of the previous few days. It’s a nice place to get calm. For a seemingly non descript boring paddock it actually has some nice natural luxuries. Like the ever present wind making its way up the hill, it gently whistles through the fence that supports my back. The long spring grass clumsily floats and dips like an ocean. Meager rays of sunlight warm my portly flannelette clad body. It’s far from people, it’s the real world, and it’s a great place to get your thinkin’ on.
In this paddock, I pondered what had past, I thought about how I could have better dealt with it. It’s a bugger admitting your flaws. I’m riddled with them. Accepting who I am, what my make up is, is important for my development as a contributing human, a citizen a member of the family.
And that’s where I was lead. Down the path to why I’m here writing this piece in the first place. Why I wrote a book. Why I write a blog. I’m passionate about introducing positive change to my lifestyle, a lifestyle mix of modern living and old time ways. I’m passionate about the natural world we share. I hurt knowing what we’re doing to this planet.
How I used to treat this planet, how I used to consume was horrible. I feel blessed that I eventually identified it as a problem, that I identified that I was contributing to the problem and I feel fortunate that I became aware and concerned enough to take steps to change. And for those that aren’t a fan of me, let me remind you, that I openly admit I’m not perfect. But I make a great effort to edge closer to the idea of living ‘self sufficiently’. And this new argument about how much one is, or is not, perfect in regards to being ‘sustainable’ ‘self sufficent’ is where the real argument gets lost in all the fuss. The spotlight should always remain on the biggest problem of all. The fact that modern human living, western human living, is a poison to this earth and poisonous to us.
It’s a hard pill to swallow. At first most people will deny it. Then they’ll become defensive of the modern way of living they embrace, because after all, to change it would mean to be uncomfortable, inconvenienced. I wish it wasn’t the case. But even blind Freddy can see the impact our lifestyle has on the earth. It’s in bad shape.
The good thing is that it’s pretty effortless to introduce small changes in the way we live, changes that will have amazing positive benefits and ultimately reduce our impact on environment. No one would make change if I said that you have to never own a car, go live in a cave and chew raw vegetables. But if I was to show a person how easy it is to grow most of their food, how to cook with that great home raised produce, a person would be more receptive to the idea, yes?
There are a million ways to reduce your impact. We consume so much stuff. Not just food, I’m talking about stuff, useless stuff. Like christmas decorations gone mad, electronic kitchen gadgets, new cars, mega houses, ever changing fashion. I saw this week a remote control temperature monitor device for your BBQ. Unbelievably mad.
We can survive with much more basic stuff. We can re-use.
These past few days Ive been pulling nails out of lumber I picked off a bonfire pile. I’m using the timber to make garden bed frames and the frame for my poly tunnel, but regardless of what I’m using it for, the point I’m trying to make is, I could have bought brand new timber from the lumber store, but instead I’m reusing. Does that make a difference? Well as a bare minimum, it’s one less tree harvested. One man cannot make change by reusing old timber, I get that. But if many people made those kind of choices, would that make a difference? Do we care enough to make a difference? Will we only make change when we are directly effected? I wonder how people that have been effected by climate catastrophe, disaster, or hardship feel about the condition of our planet. I wonder if they think we should make change? Government delegates from the Phillippines are begging to ‘end this climate madness’ at this weeks climate change summit in Warsaw. And yes many people will scoff at that last line and argue black and blue that the just because it was the craziest mega storm recorded on land doesn’t signal that its another example of the climate change effect, they’ll argue that powerful storms like Katrina and Typhoon Haiyan the norm, yes they’re totally normal… just like rapid melting glaciers, poisoned atmosphere and rapid species extinction.
We could go on bickering with each other on trivial things or we could get on the job of living lighter. I choose the latter. I choose to do what I can, which may not be perfect but it’s something. I’ve stopped buying endless non-life survival ‘stuff’ I’ve stopped sitting in city traffic for 2 hours a day, I’ve stopped relying on the supermarkets for most of my food. I’m trying to make a difference. Criticising one anther will not get us anywhere. Action will. Living by example will.
If thats clear, if any of this has made sense then I’m off. Off to buy an electric hot dog maker… or was that a cup cake maker?
It was well over ten years that we had the most severe drought. Each winter I’d pray for rain, each winter it failed to come. The summers were harsh, the bush dried out and sure enough the devastating bush fires come and went taking both human lives and homes, to be lost forever. The public feeling seemed to be united. The general consensus was the drought, the worst in living memory, appeared to be directly linked to climate change. It felt like the people were aware of the impact their lives had and thus where keen to make change in order to make things right. Times got desperate. The cities water supply was at a never before seen low of 13%. Gardens were parched from years of weak rainfall. The conversation often revolved around how hard things had become, how we could make changes to survive with this new outlook and future of living with drought. Then the drought broke.
The rain came and came. That first summer of rain wreaked havoc with farmer’s crops. The rain washed the dust from the city streets, as it washed the relevance of climate change from the face of the media. The topic took a back seat to more important issues like economic rationalism, bikie wars and the ever important reviews of popular reality television. The environment issue slipped down the ladder of public care.
It was during the drought that I started making changes in the way I lived. There came a time where I realised that in some way I was contributing to the environment’s problems. My consuming was exhausting nature. I wasnt sure exactly what I needed to do, I just knew it had to be something, because once I knew about the issues surrounding our way of living I couldn’t un-know that information. It was stuck with me.
What a journey its been.
There has been so many things for me to learn and discover. So many experiences and quite a few spectacular moments of failure. What I find most encouraging is that I’m still on that learning path. I’m still a student of change. Every now and then I’ll pick up some new skill, some new approach to living that reduces my reliance on the commercial food system that’s responsible for so much pollution, carbon emissions and unethical treatment of animals. You can’t deny these problems exist. You can pretend they don’t exist but they’ll still there, hidden behind clever marketing and shiny packaging. I often get told that I should stick to telling stories about hunting and building log cabins instead of complaining about our environment. That I should close my mouth about the unsightly impact our lives have on the natural world, that I should instead focus on the man stuff that’s slightly entertaining like fly fishing tales or talking about what gear I use. But I cannot be this person. Instead I write what is on my mind, even though it often lands me hot curry.
This week I made chorizo from the meat of the pig we were gifted. As I concentrated on the process I thought about how I would write about the experience. How it would be an interesting post to share with people. Look guys! I learnt a new skill, a new sausage recipe! Aren’t I clever! After all the mince had been squished through the hand crank sausage stuffer I took my bounty of chorizo out to hang with my two legs of jamon already hanging lifeless in the meat safe in the old brick shed. I hung the meat, closed the door to the hanging frame and starred for a few minutes at my curing meat. Home made jamon and chorizo. A little bit of pride snuck in, with a humph of self approval. It was at that moment I asked myself “Why do you do any of this?” “Why not just buy it?”
For so long now I’ve been embedded in a way of life that demands so much of the individuals input. Along the way I guess I seemed to have lost myself in the process of things. The seasonality of living. The summer grows the food for the winter, winter starts the whole cycle again. It was the freshly hung chorizo that reminded me of why I do what I do. That I’ve chosen a life of simplicity and self reliance because I want to remove myself from ‘the system’ the latter of which I’m convinced is eating away at everything good in this world. I chose the difficult path. A path where I try my best to cast less impact, but also a life where I have to accept that I will still have some impact. A life where I acknowledge that its not about having zero impact, more so it’s about a reduction of impact. Of wanting less. Of living with, and living with out. It’s give and take, take and give. As long as the cycle is a closed one, all should be fine.
My chorizo will feed us many a meal. Eventually I will dispense with this recipe, reinvent it and start all over again. I will sometimes get lost in the process, but I’ll never forget why I’m doing it. Thats the reason for everything.