Sunday, August 8, 2010

Exercising Thrift

Would you believe I am curled up inside my sweater right now? I am bracing myself from the wind blowing hard from the east off lake huron. The water is deeply blue and the front is driving the waves pounding into the break walls. My god it is beautiful here. I can't tear myself away. Somewhere my 3 young charges are building a fort on the beach out of brush and twigs. This is the sweet life, what a legacy. Keeping my footprint light, in every way I can, impressing this idea upon these 3 children feels like a moral imperative. Take only what you need. Waste nothing. Leave no trace of your passing so that this beauty survives you. Each of us, in this bountiful country, need to be good stewards. At Wyatt's school Japhet, their curriculum emphasizes character qualities based on the golden rule. I feel strongly about the one that says, "exercise thrift." By the looks of things in our state, in every state, we need a refresher course. Our lifestyle and values have hit critical mass and we are at the lowest point I have ever lived through. It is painfully evident that our insatiable appetites threaten our bodies, our relationships with each other and the places where we live. I am overwhelmed by the task I am asking of myself and you, so deeply entrenched our wicked ways, turning the tide so tall an order. I try to focus on breaking it down into smaller bites. Like just picking up garbage lying on the ground in front of me and teaching Wyatt to do the same. Examining what we define as "garbage" and taking the time together to sort through it, recycling everything we can. I make my living selling reclaimed materials: from building parts, to factory parts, decorative and utilitarian items to undefinable found things that intrigue me. Teaching Wyatt the idea that he doesn't need another new thing has been a real challenge. I spend a lot of time talking Wyatt out of his wants. I feel defeated when I finally just have to say the "no because I say so" line and often guilty when I give in. Surely one more thing won't matter? I"m uneasy. I try to divert attention, make up some adventure, go treasure hunting. It's a fun, creative, job and inspirational. While I'm looking for useable stuff to sell, he carries a bag to collect up scraps to make art out of, bones and things of interest to study. We wonder where it came from, it's history, it's purpose, the possibilities. A found item might entertain him for an entire afternoon, maybe more, then guiltlessly recycled the next. I can't imagine channel surfing or mall shopping offering similar satisfaction. Clearly it doesn't. The activity need cost nothing, you start out the door, never putting a key into an ignition. We find all kinds of useful things that maybe need a little cleaning or small repair. We all have natural ingenuity, if we tune into it. The skills may be dormant, but I am sure they are there, having been passed down for generations by ancestors who had to do everything themselves with what was at hand. We just got out of practice. There's plenty of help on the internet, at the library, maybe next door at your handy neighbors. Just ask, pay attention, be appreciative. If you have useable items you no longer need or want, donate them to your church or a service organization, sometimes they'll even pick it up. I know you are busier than ever. Enlist your family, work together, make it habit-forming. Try to make it fun. While your at it, pay attention to what is happening with the resources shared by your community: your water, your infrastructure, the parks and downtowns. Say and Do something about waste and contamination when you see it happening, we'll all have less work and expense later. Then stop right where you are. Take this minute to witness the natural beauty around you. Do it again tomorrow. You are making connections, you won't want to let your fellow planet dwellers down. Listen to your mother, make good choices.