Days 218 thru 221: MLwC, the rainy season and the restlessness of desire

The rainy season has come early to the Northwest this year. The temp has dropped quickly and I’m having to pull a lot of tomatoes off the vine and ripen them indoors. I was thinking today of how this new season will impact my fledgling transportation habits…for example, I’m nervous taking my laptop in my pack when it’s raining super hard and I have an appt out and about.

Or am I just reluctant to change habits? Think things through and come up with new approaches? All through this project I’ve faced that reluctance. Sure, after a while I come around but at first, my response is always: couldn’t I just take the car? It’d be so much easier, not to mention drier. But I just bought two new bus ticket packets and I’ll be using them. And the bike is still a brisk alternative on a windy Autumn day, making me feel more alive and connected than the other two alternatives combined.

Speaking of which, I read a post over at NoImpactMan the other day which echoes some of the feelings I’ve had at various points in this project. To whit: he finds himself more able to be grateful for things when he has less of them. Makes me think of “less is more,” a truism throughout the world of design, art, and life.

But NoImpactMan isn’t talking about art, he’s talking about living in a state of gratitude rather than desire. And when you start to cut the unnecessary out of your life, and get back to more grounded ways of living each day, it becomes easier to cultivate gratitude and recognize socialized desire when it pops up.

Have you ever read the magazine Ad Busters? It’s pretty interesting, though sort of depressing sometimes. What I love about that magazine is how they nail our culture of desire and strip it bare to reveal the inner workings. Some of their pieces on how women are taught to view themselves through media bombardment as inherently flawed without the intervention of multiple products are at once spot-on, sad, and hopeful–that last because it’s good to see the issue discussed so intelligently and by people who truly understand the advertising media.

Here’s an interesting article by Bill McKibbon in Ad Busters, from a while back, that discusses the possibility of seeing ourselves not as individuals but as part of a larger system, a very very large system. Seeing ourselves thus takes satisfaction out of the hands of media and puts it back into our own hands, our community, our neighbors, our own lives:

The dirty little secret of our individualized consumer age is that it hasn’t made us quite as happy as it promised it would. In fact, to the degree that we can track such things, our sense of well-being has retreated almost as fast as the Arctic ice. Polling data on ‘life satisfaction’ shows it has been falling since the mid-50s; even a growing chorus of economists has begun to wonder if their constant prescription (More!) has lost its curative powers, or even turned subtly toxic. It’s not precisely clear why we find ourselves less happy, but the sociologists and psychologists seem to think it has something to do with loss of community. The same loss of community that the fossil fuel infrastructure made inevitable.

As we continue to strive for happiness through “more,” we fall further into despair. I hate to be so focused on this driving/transportation thing, but I really did find the same exact thing happened when I stopped driving everywhere. When I was driving all the time, I felt like I needed to drive even more and faster, faster! I needed to get past everyone in front of me! I didn’t even know why, I just needed to. Only when I stopped driving, and speed of arrival wasn’t the only unit of measure that counted, I felt happier. Less is more.

Daily Stats (Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun) (This office project must end soon!)
Car: 9.5
Bike: 6
Ped: 4
Bus: 15

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2 responses to “Days 218 thru 221: MLwC, the rainy season and the restlessness of desire

  1. Good to hear from you Cass! I love how you are able to always see both sides of the truth, always! Reading you, makes me realize once again the immensity of the chasm between the very ‘enlightened’ few like you and the vast majority. I just came back from a trip at the Longs drugstore, and the clerk gave me this puzzled look, when I refused the plastic bag to carry my Post Its . . .

  2. Pingback: Days 360-365: MLwC hits the Year End Mark « What it’s like

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