I’d really like to just blame BP and be done with it. I mean, wouldn’t you? Because if you think about what the burning turtles and oil-soaked pelicans REALLY mean – well, it changes everything.
I bought some housewarming gifts for my buddy last night. Among them were some glass storage jars – I want to call them glass “Tupperware” except that’s a trademark violation – but you know, containers to put leftovers in. My friend Myra turned me on to getting these and has gently encouraged me (by example) to think about my usage of plastic.
When I think of BP and peak oil and oil addiction and oil-oil-oil-oil-oil (Iraq? economy? Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? who knows! it’s all about the oil spill now) I think of filling my car with gasoline. I guiltfully think of my long drives down Country Club road seeking beauty, inspiration and refuge. I self-righteously think “i HAVE to drive to work – it’s not like there’s any other option for that 22 miles each way trip.”
But, until Myra’s urging I wasn’t thinking that much about plastic. Which, of course, is made of petroleum. That would be oil-oil-oil – yeah, that stuff that is taking over the Gulf of Mexico.
I started to think about plastic in my life but then I felt as helpless and overwhelmed as when i hear about burning turtles. And at fault.
Getting the glass containers for leftovers – easy. The stainless steel water bottle and goodbye bottled water – harder, but still doable. But I look around my house and think of my typical day – very little of which doesn’t involve plastic.
Then there’s heating/cooling. I pride myself on being somewhat macho in different ways. I didn’t wear shorts until menopause, not out of concern for the beauty of my legs (they’re actually alright!) but because as kids my brother and i decided that “tough guys don’t wear shorts.”
But I’m at a stage in my life where extremes of temperature just aren’t very much fun. Especially the heat of summer, my least favorite season. So I can’t say I’m doing a Jimmy Carter in the winter (heat down, cardigan on) or emulating my dad in the summer (whose thermostat was set to 79 degrees last weekend when I visited – I thought perhaps i had inadvertently died and was indeed in hell – good gracious that’s too hot!).
I don’t know about you, but when the path ahead feels WAY too steep and murky to boot it looks like a good time to whistle Dixie, grab a little dog and just walk off the cliff like my favorite Tarot character, the Fool.
This whole conundrum brings to mind “paper or plastic?” – i always felt that was a trick question. Paper? Kill trees. Trees = good. Paper bags = bad. But then there’s plastic. Plastic = oil = bad.
I finally figured out the TRUE answer: c) none of the above. Bring cloth reusable bags. The Americanized books I read on Buddhism exhort me to find the middle way. So I found it with bags. Ah, relief – now I know what to do. no guilt, just action – it’s a good thing.
But what do I do about my plastic and oil-laden life?
My friend Marian suggested we will look back at this oil spill as the turning point – when everything changed.
I can see the good on the other side – we could stop invading countries and killing children so people who think they’re protecting THEIR children could drive huge gas-hog vehicles. Turtles wouldn’t be murdered (or plankton and pelicans and ospreys and minnows). We wouldn’t be subsiding terrorists because they’re from countries from whom we need oil. There’s a zillion good things on the other side. i want to be on the other side. But right now we’re here.
So while we’re figuring out the non-oil world (because we have to) what do I do now? Paper or plastic?
I want to know what the cloth bag solution is for driving. For air conditioning (and don’t tell me to get tougher – you can’t imagine how mean I can get when I’m too hot). For the TON of plastic that i seem to be surrounded by (just in front of me now – my router, my eyeglass frames, the top of my desk lamp, my printer, my photo printer, the 3-tray desk organizer, the Scotch tape container, the paperclip holder, the container that holds blank CDs, the barrels of the ballpoint pens, the case for my fancy headphones for my iPod – and that’s just what I can see in maybe 6 feet around the desk from which I’m writing.
I can see why the right ponies up ridiculous “experts” to say global warming isn’t real – changing your life is hard. Changing an entire culture – harder. Dying like the burning turtles – hardest.
Right now it’s turtles and pelicans and minnows, oh my. But don’t fool yourself – this trajectory is going nowhere good. And the worst part? It really ISN”T something we can pin on BP. Who’s responsible? We are, my friends. You and me.
So what are we going to do about it?
I’m going to continue to work to get smarter. To make hard, but correct choices. To look for the cloth bag solutions.
I welcome your input and suggestions.
And I’m going to pray and ask forgiveness of the sea turtles, the pelicans, the men who died in the explosion, the guy who committed suicide over this mess.
In the spiritual circles in which I travel we talk about making amends. Which is not the same as asking forgiveness (though it can involve that). It’s more about changing your ways. Let’s figure that out. Will you help?