Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What if?

Ahead of me, walking to work this morning, was a man picking up trash. A federal employee, he had a Nifty Grabber (to save his back) in one hand and a small trash bag in the other. What if we all spent just $30 and purchased our own Nifty Grabber and took it with us and did the same when we were walking down the street, going for a short hike….taking the kids to the bus stop or walking to work? It’s such a simple thing to do that just takes some mindfulness, a little bit of your time and some compassion for the environment and the places we live in.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

For B or Not For B

I don’t like what email and Facebook are doing to me. They make me feel like a greedy, stubborn little kid who only wants candy and when she gets some, she only wants more….I’m sure they raise my blood pressure and increase my heart rate. They are not good for my health. And that is why I don’t like these forms of virtual life.
My evil twin, who I will name B, does like email and Facebook, though. B lives somewhere north of my heart and thrives on virtual living. I enjoy being creative; making jewelry, going for a run, a hike in the woods, cooking good food….B likes surfing the web and checking email and Facebook…frequently; first thing in the morning, maybe on break, at lunch, when I get home and maybe a couple more times before bed. And yet we live together, in the same body, carried by the same two legs….which leads me to this question: who are we living for, our “B’s” or ourselves…our true self?
Soon I will be leaving on a trip, my own trip, and the big question is: shall I bring my lap top to keep B entertained? Okay, okay, I’ll admit that these virtual “tools” are nice for keeping in touch and seeing what’s going on in other peoples’ lives…like my friends…But this is my trip, a trip to my beloved Southwest. Ten years ago when I spent a semester there, I did not have a lap top with me and we virtually wrote all our papers by hand; we were living and studying in the great outdoors! What a concept! And what were we studying? The natural history of the environment we were living in, the environmental issues threatening the land and the native cultures that once inhabited that area. What is so significant about all this? The experience. Never in my life have I had an educational experience that was so holistic, so real. It was an experience that taught me so much about myself and life…. So now, 10 years later, I am going back to the part of the country that I love.
But it’s not going to be the same experience for sure. I won’t be sleeping out in the Sonoran Desert on the sandstone bedrock under a blanket of stars, nor studying the geologic layers of time in the Grand Canyon….I will be, instead, in the city….two different cities, actually, many miles away from where I was before.
Yet I think I am going back largely for the same sort of experience; one that teaches my more about myself, my life and my dreams. My objectives are different now. Ten years ago I was in college and on a semester abroad program called Southwest Field Studies and was going for the adventure. Now I am going down there with my career and a future place to live in mind. I plan to visit the local college in Boulder to check out a degree program there, as well as see what the two cities have to offer, in both places I am going. I will be staying with friends who live in town and I will have quick and easy access to the internet….especially if I bring my own laptop. But is this what I want? Do I need to stay connected with my friends on Facebook as I embark on this journey….just to find out that they’re just living too? Do I need to “instantly” share my experience, one that has such personal and spiritual meaning to me, with my friends by downloading and posting pictures on Facebook for the virtual world to see? And so I ask, who is this experience for?
And that question, I would like to remain open. Times have changed; we are carrying around more baggage for our “B’s.” But I guess the ultimate question is this: who are we with out ourselves, our true, spiritual natural selves, the self who is not distracted by virtual life…the self that existed before computers and cell phones, Facebook and email…the self who is enriched by the environments we are in, the self who is artistically inspired by the shapes, colors and patterns in nature, the one who can learn from the people and cultures of a different land, the one who’s curiosity is aroused by new experiences? Could it be that we feel sick from too much of virtual life ‘cause B is pulling us away from the things that are really bringing us happiness, joy and pleasure in real life? Are we worried that we might loose part of ourselves if we don’t stay on track with technology, if we aren’t up to speed with the latest gadgets and gizmos that supposively better connect us with the world? These are questions I like to ask myself before I embark on journeys like the one I am about to set off on and maybe you will too before your next trip.
‘Til next time, happy travels.