Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the deep, dark thoughts we all harbor (but which so few of us will admit to having)

The title pretty much says it all. In this age of fear and worry, suspicion of every single person who doesn't walk, talk and quack exactly like us, cities going bankrupt while banks get bailed out and bankers get richer; school districts failing and kids facing uncertain futures; the increasingly dubious value of a college diploma and the growing specter of future generations of elders having no Social Security or Medicare -- and never mind global warming or international warfare, both of which seem destined to last until the earth finally implodes -- well, it's no wonder we all think that the world is going to hell in a very large handbag.

Because, on multiple levels, it actually is.

There. I've said it.

I'll say more: It is TOO late to keep talking about preserving the way of life we know. That life is unsustainable and will not last. We can find new ways to keep people living longer but is that really a good idea? I want no part of it. I will live out whatever span of days I have, and die when I die -- as all things should.

I took a break from electronic media for a few days, and spent the time in a retreat with fifty other Jewish women. We learned, danced, studied, prayer, sang and ate together in a rustic setting. The youngest woman in attendance was forty-one. The oldest was ninety-three. Younger women helped older, less mobile women make their way around the site as needed, and together we helped prepare and clean up after our delicious, simple meals, many made using vegetables from the garden behind the dining hall.

It was somewhat utopian, this little retreat; it was also a vision of what could be -- and what I think ultimately MUST be if we are to survive as a species.

We will all have to learn to live more simply, on less money, in communal structures of various kinds (whether it's co-housing, multi-generational family units, or whatever else we come up with that enables more of us to live together more affordably). We will all have to travel smaller distances, rely less on mail-order products and services, and learn to live more locally and within our means.

We will also have to learn how to grow our own food again and to live far more simply than we currently do. This will ultimately mean setting up communities whose size and locality make them sustainable. It will mean making more of what we need at home, or doing without.

Above all, we will -- all of us -- have to stop living in denial of our mortality.

All of us are going to die someday. Some sooner, and some later. But every single person on the planet who is here will someday keel over and cease to exist in the physical realm. It is high time we taught our children how to live with that reality, instead of the myriad ways we teach them to evade it.

Voting for the right party, or living in the right city, or having the perfect job will not change this fact. neither will plastic surgery, drugs or other medical advances. Eating better, engaging in more physical activity and giving up cigarettes are all things that might make you healthier and help you feel better but none of them will prevent your death.

Imagine how we might all live if every person in the world understood that he or she will die someday, that none of us is immune and that our days our numbered. How might we change the way we live, and the things we value? ow might we change the way we teach our kids, or the things we learn?

Well, I am imagining these things already. And that is why I will probably spend less time goofing around on the internet and more time engaging in real-time activities with the people where I live. Because the goodness of my life, and the lives of those around me, depends on it.


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