It was a time of endings. Soon 1975 would end. Soon, I would take steps to end forever my involvement in what we unthinkingly called the “rat race”. This would entail more endings than I realized! Seemingly endless endings, if there could be such a thing.
To say that I have always marched to the beat of a daffy drummer is not enough. It’s like I arrived on the wrong planet. It started with the splinter that lodged itself in my right buttocks moments following birth. It seems I was arriving post haste so the surface upon which my mother bore me was none other than a quickly cleared wooden table . . . luckily there was only the one splinter . . .
Speaking of which, I also got into recycling from the first as a wicker laundry basket served as my crib. Actually, I am told it was quite nice . . . cozy in fact.
During the years it took me to grow my body to its full mature size, I was fortunate to experience living in both rural and urban areas. I found something to be said for both. However, as I approached that magical age when one begins to achieve self awareness, approximately 30 years old, I found myself in a high paced line of work, deep within a bustling city of over a million people.
Most of us were in a hurry. Most of us were trying to “keep up with the Jones”. Most of us spent most of our time toiling away at the “daily grind” just so we could afford a comfortable place to rest our weary heads and lots of fun things we were never home long enough to enjoy. Some of us were trying to practice safe and healthy life styles but were far to busy to give it our all.
Most of us dreamed of someday achieving that undisclosed state of financial where-with-all allowing one to move to a less crowded, less polluted place and bask in blissful, though possibly boring retirement. When and if that day came, there would then be ample time, and funds, to finally be the environmentally correct, socially conscious users of only safe and healthy everything we dreamed of being.
But back then, back in 1975, making a living just kept getting in the way.
I’d gone to school and got my piece of paper and won my job with an office and a wall on which to hang the said piece of paper. I tried to tell myself I was happy and content to be a part of the movers and shakers steadily climbing the golden corporate lifeline to the hallowed halls of upper management . . . I really did.
Somehow, my self just never bought it. It’s not that I wasn’t good at what I did. Far from it. I’d become a senior partner in an investment firm before I’d even achieved self aware! But again . . . approaching that magical age . . . I knew that in just a precious few years I would become aware, or fully conscious. And once conscious I would find myself far from being the proverbial happy camper! Obviously a change was needed and soon.
What to do? What to do? By this point in time I already had a family. I had parents and in-laws and off-springs and spouse and all the expectations and responsibilities to go with them. My better judgement said to keep climbing the corporate bean stalk, it being the safest path of least resistance. But then, there was that looming day of approaching awareness . . . what then?
In case you are lost and wondering just what the heck my problem was, let me tell you. I wanted to live a life in harmony with my heart. I wanted to be the person my inner self said I really was. But I was also product of conditioning. Both my family, my peers and my work mentors made one simple fact very, very plain: To be loved one must provide well for ones family; to provide well one must make lots of money.
I had gone and chained myself to a world of obligations and responsibilities well before I became self-aware enough to know what was really important to me and what was not.
This series of articles is about going green. Today this means many things to many different people. For some it is just a simple matter of replacing some or most of the products one uses with safe alternatives. For others it means investing in socially conscious funds and/or avoiding cruelty to animals. A few people probably think it means sending contributions to Greenpeace every so often.
I was born to be green. For me going green was and is a way of life. Though this sounds fanatical, for me it is not. But it is a condition that must seep into every aspect of ones life: family, religion, work, play, lifestyle, diet, health regime, transportation, energy and water usage, hobbies and so on.
I knew that any other way of life was out of the question for me. So I left the office early one day to go and discuss this dilemma with my family. My wife and two kids listened intently. Then, they asked me what I felt we should do.
I explained that I no longer wanted to be a part of the “rat race” and the only daily grind I could accept as meaningful was one we all individually created for ourselves . . . only then it would no longer be a daily grind; it would be work that was fun to do!
I told them that I was not made to wear suits and ties and breath the polluted air of the city. I was not made to pursue the ownership of more and more material things; after all, I told them, we can’t ever really “own” anything. At best, all we can do is barrow things and use them while we are here. After we are gone, all the things we supposedly own remain behind. So what do/did we really own after all is said and done? Not even our physical bodies!
I told them how I’d learned that there were two ways to become rich. One was hard and very difficult to attain; the other, while also hard, was much easier to attain. One form of being rich is to figure out a way to make and keep millions of dollars. That’s the hard way to be rich. The other, easier way is to just reduce one’s definition of being rich to having everything one wants! Few rich persons ever attain that lofty goal and yet we could do that very thing if we decided to “want” very little in the way the world measures wealth.
I told them that for me, being wealthy, or rich meant living in a beautiful place on a small piece of land in a small, simple house. It meant almost never needing to go anywhere else, unless we wished to. It meant working for no one other than ourselves; hard and honest labor with our hands and our hearts. A rich family to me was a family that worked together and rested well and played well, together. Good simple food, clean air and a crystal clear stream to soak in on a hot summers day. And finally, it meant giving back to both nature and society more that we take.
As I spoke to my family, I saw my dream come alive in their eyes. I guess this was one of those times known as a classical peak experience. It lasted for a few blessed moments before reality set in. Then all the “yeah buts” raised there withering heads.
“Yeah but where will we find such a place? How will be live? Where will we get the money to make such a drastic move? Where will we go to school? What will the grand-parents say?” And on and on . . .
I held up my hands and the flood of questions subsided. I honestly said I had no answers, yet. I only knew that in a couple of years I was going to become fully conscious. In approaching this metamorphosis it was becoming increasingly apparent that I was born to follow that “less traveled path” the poets speak of. I was beginning to see that one can either have the life one chooses to have or once can leave their life to fate. The truth is, all we need do is take charge of our own destiny.
However, I also felt it was not fair of me to decide my own future. I, after all was no longer an I, but a we. So I offered to forget about my dream, at least until the kids were grown, and leave things as they were. Or we could all of us begin a great adventure that would lead us forth into a brave new world, a way of life in harmony with natural law.
From that day forth, we were united in our desire to step away from the crowd and pursue an alternative lifestyle. At that point we had no plan and we had no idea where this dream would lead us. All we knew for sure was that we were already on our way! Together we would find the answers.
For me, going green meant a complete commitment to green living at all levels. This would required a complete relocation of our family from an urban apartment to a rural homestead where a self-sustaining lifestyle could be realized. So the first step was to make sure my family was willing to join me in this adventurous quest.
Please tune in next month for the continuing saga of the greening of Ezra.
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