July 31, 2018

Who Wants Change?


Often we think about how change will come after other people change, but not so much about how we must alter ourselves in order to see the better world we know is possible. 

When we work on ourselves, we can see how we are part of the problem. We can see how we enable others to manipulate our thinking in order to get us to adopt their version of reality. 

We see that we don't need to work jobs we don't like to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't know.

As we move forward, we don't think the same thoughts, and don't want the same things. We become able to turn a blind eye toward the make believe that pervades the fantasy world we inhabit. 

That is what the wealthy and powerful are afraid of. Our awakening. Our learning to change ourselves, and in the process, change everything else.

What will they do when we see clearly that there is only one human race, and refuse to buy into their scapegoating and bigotry? What if a large population of aware humans banded together in mutual support? 

What if we withdrew our participation in their scam entirely, as we begin to rise above?

We will see the changes we want when we get down to the hard work of changing and improving ourselves.  Eventually, we become the free thinking, compassionate individuals that we are when we are impervious to being coerced, pressured and threatened by outside forces.

Who wants change? Most of us. 

Who wants to change? Hopefully just as many, because that is the only thing that will allow us to build the better world that we want to see. 

Change ourselves, change everything. 




July 27, 2018

Dentist With A View Eases The Pain

The view from our dentist's chair is better than watching the screen on the ceiling running non-stop news.

How can you make visiting the dentist more agreeable? How about discount dental care for those of us not on employer benefits? Joking - that's never going to happen.

Next to that, having a dentist in a scenic location makes things a bit better. 

Our last dentist, on the west coast, had his practice in a small character home overlooking Sooke harbour. The view from his main chair was so good that pain drugs weren't necessary. Joking again, although the view did make any discomfort easier to handle.

Our new east coast dentist, as it happens, is also in a nice location, and again on a harbour. Also, the last 4 digits of the new dentist's phone number are identical to our previous dental office. When we got here 4 years ago, and were getting set up, we took it as a sign. 

Now when we sit in the chair we can look at dry docked fishing boats out one window, or out into the town harbour, where you can sometimes see tall ships docked at the government wharf. 

Ahh, calm, blue ocean. Great stress reducer.

I'd rather have discount dental care, but a nice view to take my mind off the pain of the work being done, and the further pain experienced while paying, will have to do.

Have a good weekend.




July 25, 2018

Earth Overshoot Day



We are approaching the day of the year at which human consumption exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate, a sad moment dubbed "Earth Overshoot Day". Unsurprisingly, this day has been coming sooner and sooner since the 1970s.

The 70s was the decade that the globe moved from a sustainable level of consumption into overshoot. From that point on we have been drawing our resources from our Bank of Nature account, which is getting drawn down faster than it can be replenished. 



When is your country's Earth Overshoot Day? It is an embarrassing May 8 for Canada,
much sooner than the global average of August 1st. 

Find out more about your country here.

Our resource account is also getting drawn down faster and faster each year.


Past Earth Overshoot Dates


1970 - December 29

1980 - November 3

1990 - October 11

2000 - September 23

2010 - August 8

2018 - August 1


Since the 1970s we have gone from one planet living to 1.7 planet living. While this issue unfolds right before our eyes, we choose to not to see. Not only that, the precipice that we will plunge over is just ahead, and some world "leaders" are stepping on the gas pedal. 

We should fight this dangerous trend with all our might. Things will not change until we do. Our passivity is their advantage.



What is your personal Earth Overshoot Day? Find out by clicking on this image.


Regardless of how often we are told to keep calm, and carry on with our recreational shopping, driving, flying, meat eating, and producing waste like there is no tomorrow, we will not escape the repercussions of degrading our planet. 

Solutions

There are many doable right now solutions that could be implemented personally, at the community level, nationally, and globally. For now, the majority of high consuming nations and their citizens have chosen to ignore them. 

But how long can that continue before the people choose to see, decide to do something about it, and change the way we do things? Our planet has limits that can not be ignored forever.

That doesn't mean we are powerless - we can do a lot as individuals.


  • become politically active: make phone calls, write letters, texts, tweets and emails, vote, run for office, support a rational, pro-environment candidate that thinks for themselves and wants to serve the people and the planet.
  • the most rational and straightforward personal action would be to simplify a multi-planet lifestyle to the point of single-planet living. A challenge, to be sure, but entirely doable, not to mention, necessary if we are to survive.
  • support your local economy
  • eat a plant based diet, or if you can't give up meat, eat less of it (vegetarian foods are just as tasty, satisfying, and nutritious).
  • drive, fly, and travel less often.
  • use public transportation.
  • limit the use of plastic.
  • talk to others about Earth Overshoot Day.
  • share what you are doing to respond to a clear and present danger to human survival.
  • reduce desires and unrealistically high expectations
  • find joy in simplicity
  • plant a garden


I calculated the Overshoot Day for Linda and I (see image above), and came up with March 14, 2019. The Global Footprint Network told me: 


"Hurray! If everyone lived like you, there would be no Overshoot Day! We would only need 0.8 Earths." 

I dearly hope that is accurate. Even if it is, there is always more that we can do to reduce our impact on the Earth and all its inhabitants. 

I envision a time when there is no Overshoot Day, like not so long ago in the 70s. I believe it can be done. But will we do it in time? Start now, and avoid the rush.




July 22, 2018

Forest Medicine

Welcome to the healing forest. There is good medicine here.

I went for a late afternoon bike ride into the forest today. It was hot and humid with a slight wind. The smell just about knocked me out of the saddle. In a good way.

The smell of trees and forests is one of my favourite things in all of nature. My addiction to forest sights and smells could be due to being born on the northern limit of the Great Plains, in short grass prairie territory. 



On the road to another rejuvenating forest bath.


On the flat, featureless (which is its defining feature) prairie landscape, there is nary a tree to be seen. The prairie has its own dusty olfactory gifts, and although I prefer the funk of the forest, breathing fresh air anywhere is a good thing to do for your body, mind and soul.

Science certainly agrees that forests are beneficial olfactory oasis's. Researchers have identified forest substances that affect how neurotransmitters in our brains function, showing how forest plants change how our brain operates. 

"Time in forests significantly improves mood in countless studies replicated in a variety of cultures." 
- Association of Nature & Forest Therapy




A waxing gibbous moon was part of the forest experience today.

When we are exposed to certain soil bacteria, it causes our brains to emit more serotonin, a chemical that regulates brain function, as well as moods. It is a natural anti-depressant that also decreases inflammation in the immune system.

When we breathe in the forest air, we are also breathing in phytoncides, airborne chemicals that plants give off to protect themselves. Phytoncides have antibacterial and antifungal qualities which help fight disease. 


"For 1 hectare (ha) of pine forest approximately 5 kg of volatile phytoncides are released into the atmosphere in one day, while for 1 ha of juniper forest approximately 30 kg are released, reducing the number of microflora in the air." - source



My destination, resting spot, and turn around point.

When we enjoy that sweet forest smell, all kinds of gifts are reaching our nostrils, and they are unseen airborne healers. Our bodies respond by increasing the number and activity of a special type of white blood cell that eliminates body cells affected by cancer and viruses.

So that smell that I love so much is more than just a pleasant part of being in the forest. More importantly, it is a mood enhancer, brain and immune system booster, and disease fighter. 

No wonder I am addicted to it. In a good way.


Another magical and fantastic phytoncide factory - white pine in this case.


July 19, 2018

Monk-Like Simplicity

This monastic retreat is at the Monastery of St Antony & St Cuthbert in Shropshire, United Kingdom.

There is no spiritual practice I am aware of that recommends shopping as the way reach to the peaks of human experience.  What is often encouraged is taking a vow of simplicity in the practice of monastic living. 

In a world of predatory consumerism, one may need to develop a monk-like existence to avoid being tempted and trapped by harmful, unsatisfying ways of living. There are many benefits to monk-like simplicity.

Monks aspire to reach what are considered to be the ultimate goals of life. They are aided by the simplicity found after renouncing all unnecessary things. 

Without the usual trappings, there is not much left. Who are we stripped of all our stuff? The diligent monk aims to find out.



A monk cell.


By eliminating distractions and emotional entanglements of the outside world (the world of passions), monks are able to concentrate on what is most important to them.

Single-mindedness allows exclusivity of the goal, unlike in the outside world where our mental environment is pushed and pulled this way and that by competing interests. 




“Our mental environment is a common-property resource like the air or the water. We need to protect ourselves from unwanted incursions into it, much the same way we lobbied for nonsmoking areas ten years ago.” 
- Kalle Lasn


The chances of success in such an environment are increased multi fold. Your goals may not include probing the nature of reality and higher powers. It doesn't matter. What are your most important goals in life? Monk-like simplicity will help you meet them.


Contemplation can happen here, unhindered by distractions.



We don't need to become cloistered in a monastery or hut in the forest to receive the benefits of monk-like simplicity. It can be done by anyone, anywhere. 



Monk-Like Simplicity

1) Let go of unnecessary things.
2) Establish what is "just enough".
3) Meet needs, not wants. 
4) Focus on your ultimate goal.
5) Live in a beautiful place close to nature.
6) Use time freed up to learn about the self, the ego, your purpose, and how your practice can be of service to Earth and all its inhabitants.
7) Eat to live, rather than live to eat.
8) Tend a small garden.
9) Be patient, and persistent in all things.
10) Take advantage of the "visual silence" of simple, uncluttered spaces.




July 16, 2018

From Thoughtless Buying To Mindful Consumption




When we stop thoughtless buying we focus neither on things we’ve bought in the past, or things we would like to buy in the future. No longer do we waste precious life moments thinking about getting more so we can buy more. We exist entirely in the present moment, in a state of simply being ourselves. 

We start to enjoy being more when we cease having to fulfill each and every desire that clouds our minds. After a while, the clouds of desire diminish, and we seek only to mindfully meet basic needs in the here and now. 

This sets us free to enjoy our Self, our spirit, our own inner beauty and the beauty of the natural world.

With our altered awareness of what wanting and buying really means for us personally, we are able to enjoy birds singing and the smell of flowers on the breeze at a much deeper level. 

We have eliminated being bombarded by the mindless desires and thoughtless buying that assails our awareness and pollutes our attention in a regular consumer existence.

When we halt thoughtless buying, a good thing happens - we become more of ourselves. We are free of the confusion, misery, and struggle of consumer life.

Ultimately, nothing is left to distract us from the simple joys of existence, and we find that they are enough.




July 14, 2018

Import Replacement And Community Resilience

Farmer's Markets are a good way to support local farmers and producers.

There is a lot of talk about imports these days, mostly because we could be seeing the beginning of the end of global trade as we have known it in recent years. Now is a good time to look at alternatives to trade in order to ensure that the things we need continue to be available in the event international trade slows or stops.

Many communities, including those in Nova Scotia, are considering the advantages of using Import Replacement as a way to strengthen communities and bolster resilience at the same time.

Import replacement, or import substitution, means sourcing as much as you can from local producers in order to reduce dependence on imports. It is a strategy that can be implemented at any time, and it is looking like the sooner the better. 


Doing so after our current trade-heavy system collapses would be too late to avoid much pain and suffering.



Advantages of Import Replacement


  • Money stays in the community
  • Increased local employment
  • Builds community resilience
  • Local food is healthier food
  • Less reliant on complex, energy intensive supply chains 
  • Greater autonomy and self-reliance for communities
  • In the event of the collapse of global trade, communities well versed in import replacement will do better than those still reliant on a disappearing supply chain


Disadvantages



  • Increases the cost of products/services
  • Requires new ways of thinking and doing things that threaten established global interests
  • Funding is currently difficult for non-traditional economic approaches 

While it may be currently difficult for a community to impose restraints on economic policies and conditions created by a global market, national governments, transnational corporations and international financial agencies, it has already been done with success in many regions.

In my area of Nova Scotia, it has been suggested that IR may be the answer to reversing the trend of shrinking rural populations, and building strong local economies which serve the people that live there. 


A bonus would be that the area would be better ready to handle what is certain to be turmoil and chaos in global trade now and in the future.



“The benefits of self-sufficiency [or import replacement] will be seen in places where it still exists. So long as the whole supply chain is local, localized production means being able to maintain access to essential goods at a time when obtaining them from overseas may be difficult or impossible. 
It is currently more expensive, but the relative security it can provide can be priceless in a dangerous world. The ability to produce locally does not arise overnight however, especially where there are no stockpiles of components. 
In places where it has been lost, it will take time to regain. There is no time to lose.”

- from The Automatic Earth

Supporting local growers and suppliers of the things we need right now will ensure that they will always be there for us, especially when they are most needed.




July 13, 2018

Simple Living Word of The Day: Otium



The definition of the Latin term otium is: "virtuous leisure, a time free of obligation that is spent in contemplation, and the cultivation of one’s spirit". That sounds like a perfect Simple Living Word of The Day to me.

The Greek philosopher and "first teacher"Aristotle (born 384 BC), had a concept of virtuous leisure. Freedom was an important element.


“We give up leisure in order that we may have leisure, just as we go to war in order that we may have peace.” 
- Aristotle
Aristotle's Concept of Virtuous Leisure

1. We should seek freedom from material wants so that we can have time for leisure and not be enslaved by our work.

2. We should seek intellectual freedom to understand why virtuous leisure activities are good.

3. Freedom is the essential characteristic of any virtuous leisure activity.


I guess he was one of the original proponents of simple living. I wonder if he had a blog?


Nature guru Henry David Thoreau was on the same page when he observed,


“There are moments when all anxiety and stated toil are becalmed in the infinite leisure and repose of nature.”

I like to get becalmed in nature on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, I was becalmed for a couple of hours today during a bike ride through the countryside on gravel back roads and trails. It was all otium all the way.






Joseph Pieper is a more recent philosopher that reminds us to pay attention to the elements of happiness, one of which is leisure.

He says:


“Repose, leisure, peace, belong among the elements of happiness. If we have not escaped from harried rush, from mad pursuit, from unrest, from the necessity of care, we are not happy. 
And what of contemplation? Its very premise is freedom from the fetters of workaday busyness.”

He also warns us about the dangers of all-pervasive work environments:


“Of course the world of work begins to become - threatens to become - our only world, to the exclusion of all else. The demands of the working world grow ever more total, grasping ever more completely the whole of human existence.”  

Less work, stuff, and mindless busyness - more otium. That is what simple living is all about for me. 

I wish you good otium. Optimum otium. Like opium, but better.




July 11, 2018

She Ain't Heavy - She's My Best Friend



This week I took Linda to the park near our home. It was the first time we have been there together for many months. We were both stoked.

We hiked/rolled through the woods along a short wheelchair accessible trail. The trail is doable, but rough. I had to balance Linda on the back two wheels of her chair so the front wheels didn't get caught in the gravel. 

It is an awkward way to go.

This balancing act while moving along the trail is difficult to do, which might be why I have never seen anyone else in a wheelchair on this trail. Unless one is on pavement, there are bound to be challenges, and there is no pavement to be seen here.

We took breaks along the way to admire the brooks (two of them), and the trees and plants of the Acadian Forest surrounding us. It was very beautiful, and if I didn't get breaks I would surely die of heat exhaustion, or even just plain exhaustion.

Each time we would stop till the biting insects found us, then it was run/roll away again to escape the swarming, hungry hoards of biters.

I was beat, bleeding and battered, but determined. I was going to get my best friend to the scenic waterfall at the end of the trail, and I did.

In my opinion, the trail was much longer and steeper than last time we were on it. And Linda surely was much heavier. Or was it me? 

Age has a way of changing things, and I wondered how long I could continue doing strenuous hikes like this. And it is not just hiking, but all my care giving duties that I ponder from time to time. 

Will I eventually get too frail, like when I am 90-something? Or 100 something?

I know from past hiking experiences, the first time out is not when one should assess one's overall hiking fitness. True to form, by the time we got back to the parking lot, I felt much better, and by the next day I was fully (more or less) recovered.

But I sure did sleep good that night, happily worn out, and content in the knowledge that I could still get my best friend out there. She loved it, and so did I. We are looking forward to a repeat performance some time soon. 

While we still can. 






July 6, 2018

Rise Up!



I have long wondered how long it would take for disgruntled, mistreated Americans (and Canadians) to revolt and take back their democracy, and their country. Doing so would not only benefit them, but the whole world. 

Perhaps we are close now.

The following wake up/warning call is from Micah White, one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street. It sums up a lot of what this blog is about, and what I have been rebelling against my whole life.

Come on, America - you could be the model that the rest of us can draw on to overthrow our own evil rulers and their self-serving systems. Any takers?


JULY 4, 2018

This is a sincere call for an American Revolution against the decadent, vile kleptocrats that are driving our nation into the ground. Compromised demagogues, sinister bankers, perverted analyticos... A cabal of compulsive liars has turned America, the pioneer of modern democracy, into a decaying state whose President is a puppet of a foreign regime. 

Meanwhile, the opulent 1% are sucking the 99% dry even as they push us, debt-ridden and screen-addicted, over the precipice. Only an insurrection against their cruel misrule can save us now.  

Making the case for the overthrow of the American kleptocracy is a serious matter. From the perspective of the apparatchiks in power, it is a criminal, seditious, treasonous act punishable by a lengthy prison sentence. Therefore, we must be absolutely certain that ours is a righteous rebellion. We must be confident that although our revolution may be illegal from their perspective, it is supremely legitimate, commendable and obligatory from the perspective of universal, natural law.  

And so that we may guard against recklessness, we must be judicious and put the actions of the current American government on trial before deciding if the sentence of execution by popular revolution is necessary and just.

Our case for a forceful disbanding rests on the charge that the American regime is illegitimate and anti-democratic because it is a danger to ourselves as individual citizens, collectively as a nation and globally as a species. Acknowledging that insurrection is only warranted when there is no other avenue to fully removing the corrupt from power, we will contend that all other tactics have already been tried unsuccessfully.  

Every politician in office today, democrat and republican alike, accepts corporate bribes and is therefore corrupt. Some are worse than others—he goes so far as to flout the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution—but all are guilty of the same indiscretion. 

Their presence in office is perverse evidence that they groveled before wealthy lords and do not serve the aspirations of the people. We know this because on January 21, 2010 the U.S. Supreme court told us who runs America by granting corporations and unions the freedom to donate unlimited amounts of money to political candidates. 

As it is already an established statistical, historical fact that the candidate who spends the most money wins in 9 out of 10 races, it is undeniable that we live in an era were anyone genuinely opposed to the decline of America, and unwilling to compromise, will never be elected. 

We will not be fooled by billionaires who slither into office by pretending to care about America’s collapse while selling their souls, and our democracy, to autocrats abroad. Detached from the reality of everyday people, this government is a dangerous enterprise that is hazardous to the liberty of its citizenry.

Not content with stripping us as citizens of our sovereignty, the dishonest rulers have instituted a foreign policy that delights in permanent war, xenophobic misanthropy and international instability. From cynically squandering billions of dollars of taxpayer money each year on secret wars in distant nations or the military support given to keep undemocratic regimes in power, everything about America's foreign policy is wrong, pro-war, anti-freedom and unjust. 

A nefarious, deep state military-industrial complex sows discord abroad, confusion at home and guarantees that our nation will never live in peace.

And then there is the deepest charge of all: America's kleptocracy is committing a crime against humanity. Nature is dying, sentient species are disappearing, catastrophic climate change threatens us all. 

And yet, the ideology of rampant consumerism and isolationist denialism reigns supreme in America. Ecocide is the official policy of these mammon worshipers who use their military might to keep the oil flowing and industrial pollutants pumping. Glaciers are melting, oceans are acidifying, climate refugees flood across borders. 

If America is not overthrown, the cancerous growth of capitalism will not end until all life on earth is extinct.

Everywhere we look there are signs of moral decay, political corruption and fascistic tendencies. However, activists have not been passive. 

For decades, since the end of democracy in America first became undeniable, we have tried every tactic to avert catastrophe. We have voted, written letters, donated money, held signs, protested in marches, clicked links, signed petitions, tweeted hashtags, knitted sweaters, learned to farm, turned off the television, programmed apps, engaged in direct action, committed petty vandalism, disrupted pipelines, occupied wall street and sparked antifa riots... All this has been for naught. 

Protest has been co-opted by frontgroups designed to fail. Popular revolution remains the only reasonably viable tactic remaining.

In the 18th century, America's forefathers were in a similar situation as we are today. They also sought justification to wage a rebellion against a despotic empire that claimed to be their rightful government. 

They knew that what they intended to do was illegal from the King's perspective, but they found solace in a higher law, a universal law that takes priority over temporal authority. 

The thirteen colonies made the case for insurrection in the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776 and thereby permanently enshrined as unalienable "the right of the people to alter or to abolish" the government. 

The precedent of our own history grants us the right to revolt. Further, the seriousness of America's threat to the world obligates us to act.

Now we will sweep the parasites out of power and reinstate the rule of the people.

Source: http://micahmwhite.com/american-revolution



July 2, 2018

Is Voluntary Simplicity The Moral And Ethical Thing To Do?

Of the 7.6 million child deaths (under-5s) in 2010, the vast majority occurred in just two regions.


Is voluntary simplicity an appropriate response to planetary and social crises? Is it the moral and ethical thing to do at a time when human economic activity is rapidly degrading the natural world?

Certain brands of hand bags can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The most expensive can cost millions. I'm not making that up, although it does seem unreal in a world where tens of thousands of children die every day as a direct result of a lack of basic necessities of life. 

Save lives, or buy a hand bag? Would not buying the bag create any kind of hardship? Is it beneficial for humanity for some to indulge in frivolous distractions while others are dying preventable deaths?


There are many benefits to living a low-impact lifestyle, but perhaps one of the most attractive is that it is a powerful moral response to the insanity found in the consumer world.


There is a statement that sums this all up, but has been used so much that it has become dangerously diluted for those living high consumption, me-oriented lifestyles. 


But I will repeat it here because it still means something to me, and surely must to many of the wonderful people that visit this blog.



"Live simply so that others may simply live."


Wasting money and resources on frivolous things, while people die as a result of not having the basics of life, is not only a brutal form of insanity, but also seems immoral and unethical when you really think about it. 


But how often do we think about it?


Voluntary simplicity is not just about saving the environment, or saving money, or saving your freedom. It is also about trying to do the right thing for struggling people everywhere.



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