05 February 2012

What Will You Choose? (Feb. 2012)

Two of my friends moved recently. Both of them called me, independent of each other, to tell me that A) they have too much stuff; B) they feel immensely liberated as a result of purging much of their stuff; and C) they are committed to not mindlessly re-accumulating an excess of possessions.

Which is music, naturally, to my ears. But not just because I’m a professional organizer and want to help people de-clutter. Teaching people how to let go of too many things is often where I come on board, but what I really want is to teach people how to ride the Sidestepping Materialism train from much earlier in their journey. Imagine having not acquired all your stuff in the first place!

And yet our culture pushes us toward purchasing. Our economy depends upon ever-widening spirals of growth. (Wasn’t it Edward Abbey who said that “growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of a cancer cell”?) Our society is focused on production and profit, much more so than on relationship and sharing. Which means that, as a society, we value things over life and treat each other, our environment, and other living beings accordingly.

What if, instead of putting our life energy into accumulating possessions, we made our relationships our primary focus? What if we stopped buying all but the truly necessary (remembering that beauty is also necessary, as is joy) and gave our time, instead, to creating healthy relationships and healing the world around us? What if we stayed mindful of the urge to fill our emptiness, our longing for meaning and connection, with yet another acquisition and, instead, reached out to connect with another living being? What if we chose love over things?

Last month I wrote about pondering the meaning of life and what matters, as well as how to choose actions that will make the most positive difference. I continue to think about these matters, especially as people I love approach the end of their lives. And I continue to return to love – acts of love, not the abstraction of love – as being the most important guiding light. (Certainly, as we lie on our deathbed, our stuff isn’t what we look back on as having been important.)

Sometimes I think that love is the most revolutionary act of all.

Quotes of the Month

What if the point of life has nothing to do with the creation of an ever-expanding region of control? What if the point is not to keep at bay all those people, beings, objects, and emotions that we so needlessly fear? What if the point instead is to let go of that control? What if the point of life, the primary reason for existence, is to lie naked with your lover in the shady grove of trees? What if the point is to taste each other's sweat and feel the delicate pressure of finger on chest, thigh on thigh, lip on cheek? What if the point is to stop, then, in your slow movements together, and listen to birdsong, to watch dragonflies hover, to look at your lover's face, then up at the undersides of leaves moving together in the breeze? What if the point is to invite these others into your movement, to bring trees, wind, grass, dragonflies into your family and in so doing abandon any attempt to control them? What if the point all along has been to get along, to relate, and experience things on their own terms? What if the point is to feel joy when joyous, love when loving, anger when angry, thoughtful when full of thought? What if the point from the beginning has been to simply be?
– Derrick Jensen

In being with dying, we arrive at a natural crucible of what it means to love and be loved. And we can ask ourselves this: Knowing that death is inevitable, what is most precious today?
– Roshi Joan Halifax

“I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
– Diane Ackerman

I am only so beautiful as the character of my relationships, only so rich as I enrich those around me, only so alive as I enliven those I greet.
– Derrick Jensen

Happiness is love, nothing else. A man who is capable of love is happy.
– Hermann Hesse

Recipe of the Month

Heart-Healthy Oat Bran Muffins

2-1/4 cups oat bran
1/4 cup flax meal (optional)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup sugar (or maple syrup)
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Beat in
1-1/4 cups milk
1 egg
2 overripe squirshed bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla

Raisins, apples, blueberries, or blackberries
Walnuts or pecans could be nice, too…

Put in muffin tins lined with paper liners (they don't rise much, so go ahead and fill almost full)

Bake at 450 for approx. 15 minutes, until browned.

Makes one dozen muffins and a small loaf.

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