Living a sustainable life is something that is important to me. I know it is not the most glamorous of lives and I have dirt under my finger nails more often than I have polish on them but at the end of the day, I feel good about it. Crop rotation, chemicals in my apples and solar panels are thoughts that occupy my mind. My winter prep is more concerned with chicken coop insulation and a stock pile of kindling than the latest fashions in snow boots and how much money I can manage to burn through on Black Friday.
Sustainability is popular now and there are many different levels of compliance. I like to think that as each day, week, month and year passes we learn more, make better decisions and actually become more sustainable as people - not just from what I tell you here about canning and composting, but as actual living, breathing human beings. Sustainable beings.
That said, the 'sustainable' often overshadows the whole foundation - life. A sustainable life; a charmed life; a miserable life; a productive life. All basically life when you get to the bottom if it and it is all built up with the choices we make - good and bad - and we just use those choices and results to best pick the word that we will put in front of our 'life.'
It is the 'life' that has been keeping me up at night. I can think, eat, breathe, wallow in, preach about and read books on 'sustainability' till the cows come home - literally. It's the 'life' part that I am having trouble with.
It was all summed up pretty well for me the other day as I very carefully used the very tips of my index finger and thumb to pick up a wet pair of little boys Thomas the Train under ware and size 3T cargo shorts from my kitchen floor. And they were not dripping from a rainy day or a leak in my kitchen sink. The little man still has not totally mastered the art of potty training.
I picked them up, held them at arms length and before I started towards the laundry room, I thought "So this is what my life boils down to. Wet children's under ware on the floor and it is not surprising to me."
Call me crazy, but this is not what I had envisioned for my life.
We all make our choices and we all have the consequences. Some are great all around. Some are horribly negative. Some work well and others fall apart in the end. Some people make the choice to go to college and get a fabulous job and a brand new Lexus, some people get hooked on cocaine and loose everything they love, some of us go through life in the middle - going with the flow, doing what is considered normal, and having everything turn out fine. Our choices shape us and they decide what word comes before 'life.'
I have not always lived a sustainable life. I have lived a 'normal' life, a 'rebellious' life, a 'risky' life, an 'negative' life, an 'ignornat' life and a 'great' life. For my family, my life was controlled and college bound. For me, life was tumultuous and rebellious. I drifted through my high school and college years with no notion of who I was or what I believed in. Don't get me wrong, I had a fantastic time doing crazy, stupid things but mostly I was just a normal kid figuring things out.
My various part time high school and after college jobs helped me figure out what kind of person I did not want to be.
The only real thing that has helped me figure out the word that I want to put in front of my 'life' is just plain old time. What we envision and what comes out in the end are rarely one and the same.
I learned, I grew, I experienced, I gained and I failed. I became 'sustainable' not just in the familiar terms of eco-friendly, but an actual sustainable human being. A viable, balanced, contributing, knowledgeable human being. In that way, shouldn't we all strive to live sustainably? Even if we think that global warming is a democrat myth and Monsanto loves bunnies?
Am I totally happy with my life? No, I am not. I have pee covered clothes in my washing machine, over two feet of titanium bolted to my spine and there is a housing development going up down the road. My husband can be the most annoying person in the world, my kids give me headaches and at least two days a week I want to pack a bag and run for the nearest airport.
But am I happy with the choices I have made that have helped me find the 'before life' word? Considering that my word is more or less 'sustainable', I think I am making out pretty well so far.