When it comes to fond farewells, I’m torn between Eliot, Nietzche and a neat, unannounced exit. We’ve bridged the gap, we’ve earned our blisters (well, those of us without gloves); we exit the bus, we enter the city. We have come full circle to start again as if for the first time, yet arriving is not the point, and neither is leaving.
Is a “sustainable” bamboo bicycle better than an old steel one you found? Can you really clear the karma of your carbon footprint? If you improve the lot of a whole lot of the industrialized nations, don’t more people in the poorer ones suffer more? We didn’t answer these questions en route; we only just started asking them. Some of us won’t stop. And I doubt any of us will ever have any answers for long.
The contradictions in trying to live more abundantly and sustainably perpetuate because, not only are these essentially paradoxes, but nature is in constant conflict with itself. Its pivotal power is that it is in flux , that it is responsive and embracing. Its struggle is its liberation. If I’ve read any wise words anywhere lately, it was that the happiest soul is the one who knows how to change.
2 weeks in the bright, bitter air of an African winter have opened my pores and planted plans in my mind. My heart is sunny. My legs are loose. I want more road, more bush, less traffic roar and I want to do it the right way. Which doesn’t exist. The Dalai Llama is still the coolest to quote in conclusion : adapt or die, green or polluted, if we want to build our world, we have to keep at it, work with it, as it is, towards something that it can be, may have been, or may still become. That means starting from scratch on a spiritual level to discover the things we already know deep inside us and bringing them out into daylight so they can feed us (better). It means listening to the moon, and your inner child. It means putting “relax” on your To Do list and taking some of the perfectionism out of your piece of pie.
Bottom line is that the hippies knew it before the hipsters : design delivers. After this trip, I know that nature will show you which seeds to sow and how to get the water to flow again. Seeing it in practise encouraged me to look into living more mindfully. I may go vegan. I will go organic. Eco-Elf will supply. I’ll grow herbs at home and help friends whip their gardens into shape : I’ll be ripped, not ripped off. I’ll volunteer for social enterprises that offer sustainable food security, housing solutions and self-employment opportunities to those in need. We are all in need. Indeed, we are all in this together.
That doesn’t change the fact that donkey boilers, compost toilets and biodegradable deodorants that I’ve come across in South Africa don’t work properly. I wasn’t overly impressed with the odour control issues in the long drop loos, but in a water scarce country like South Africa, not using a flush toilet makes sense. To millions. It’s just that the different compost toilet prototypes we’ve seen so far sure don’t. And yet, as a species, on a global scale, we’ve been shitting where we sleep for a long, long time, and it’s starting to affect us. All. So, yes, I humphed while I held my nose (or weed outside) and thought about why it took so long for anyone to design a more amenable beehive that then completely revolutionized beekeeping. You know, the person who came up with the new structure was self-taught, slightly obsessive and an idealist…Oh dear! Looks like I have me a new challenge…
(looking for the previous post?)
Oh! Here are some cutesy photos of newbie farmers and
some links so you can bridge your own gaps!