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Monday, May 21, 2012

What Really Matters

Sometimes it's difficult to get to the heart of what really matters in certain life situations.  Last week, Vermont became the first state to ban fracking, with Governor Shumlin stating, "Human beings survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and natural gas.  We have never known humanity or life on this planet to survive without clean water."  You can read an article about this here:
For me, that pretty much says it all.  Back to basics.  What do we really need?  What really matters?  This has been said so many different ways by so many different people and many of us are catching on.

The thing about this is that it needs to be carried out every day in big ways and small ways but each one of us.  We have to get to the heart of what matters.  We have to stand up for what we believe in every day and we have to teach our children to do the same.  And we have to let others know that we are doing this so they can learn from our examples.

I know this is not always easy.  I seem to relearn this lesson every time I give a piece of myself away to something that I don't believe in because it has become a part of life....every time one of my son comes home with a plastic bag full of tiny plastic toys that are half broken and destined to become trash within the week from yet another school party.  Speaking with the room mom was not enough, I learned, because some students sent pre-packaged 'treats' from home for birthdays and nobody is to be excluded.  When I didn't buy my sons Smencils (plastic encased pencils) at the school sale, someone kindly sent one home for them anyway because nobody should feel left out.  It was then left to me to explain that my sons are not feeling left out because they understand that their identity is not tied to a pencil.  They have plenty of them and when they need one, they know it will be provided.  When I made that speech, the looks I got were looks of pity and sadness, though, so that tells me the road is a long one.  I can't reach everyone at the time and place that I want to...I just have to keep going with what I believe in, putting the information out there, teaching by example and maybe one of these actions will reach someone and change one mind. 

The most important thing is that I keep trying to live a life of integrity.  If I can't do that, how can I expect a corporation to do it?  I'm not there yet.  I just spent one night this weekend sleeping outside in a line to buy a ticket to watch my son's dance recital.  Seriously?  It is absolutely crazy, certifiably insane!  I can't even believe I did it.  And I'm very embarrassed and sad that I did.  My son loves to dance.  Last year, he danced for a teacher who was completely in sync with my thoughts and beliefs:  his recital was completely organic...costumes sewed by hand, props painted by local students, tickets sold just to cover costs (around $5 each).  It was a beautiful, heartwarming show and gave us such good memories.  That was ballet.  This year, my son wanted to learn tap.  Our teacher didn't teach tap, so we had to seek out a new studio.  All of the studios that teach tap locally are big production type studios.  I didn't quite understand what that meant until the sleeping-out part came along.  All year, the lessons have gone smoothly, my son loves to tap, he's learned a lot...and now, we are spending money on fancy costumes and sleeping out to get an $18 ticket just to be able to watch our son dance.  And if we'd like the DVD, which will feature 2 minutes and 45 seconds of our son dancing, that will be another $40.  So for my husband and I to bring our 2 sons to watch their 7 year old brother dance for less than 3 minutes, it would cost $72 (sadly, we opted to leave his brothers at home with their grandparents for this one).  I am a big supporter of the arts, but even here, I have to think about what really matters.  Do the fancy costumes matter?  Not to me.  The big production?  Nope.  What matters is that my son gets to do something that he loves and I think there are better ways he can do this.  So next year you won't find me in the line of 300 people sleeping out to get a ticket to their child's show.  It has been a lesson learned.  Still, it gives me a lot to think about.  Why does a situation like this exist?  There were lots of people in that line who were not happy about the situation, but still told me this was not the first time they've done it and it won't be the last.  Why do we let go of what we know to be true just to go along with existing systems that are not working for most of the people involved?

If only we could learn these lessons more quickly.  For the planet, this is a necessity.  When we wake up to what really matters to us and try to live that out with each and every action, we contribute to a better world.


  1. This was good article, Kate, and I don't think the issue is that people don't know what is right but they don't know HOW to do what's right. How do we just instantly shake off all those bad habits? Can people even stick to their new-years resolutions to lose weight? But they all know they SHOULD and WHY they should. BUT HOW?!?!
    Did you notice in the comments on this article that the state continues to allow natural gas to be delivered and piped in from other areas (like PA) where harmful fracking is rampant? It's not that this government doesn't know it's bad, but how do they "turn off" the demand for this stuff?
    I have some ideas. How do I implement them on a large enough scale to make a difference? We need to mobilize EVERY AMERICAN to make a difference. But what's their motivation? It's painful to sacrifice. It's tough to lose weight and stick with it, it's tough (and expensive!) to drop an oil addiction, and it's tougher to trounce a "technology" that seemingly helps us kick that oil addiction with a domestic alternative. So how do we present it to enough of the "right people" to get something done? Can't take the tree-hugger aspect, can't take human health aspects, you need to appeal to peoples' pockets.
    In this "me" society, we all "assume" we have rights that we were born with. We do a great job with accepting the "me" part. Nobody want's to own up to the rest of the word, though. ASS of U and ME.

  2. Kate,

    I just shared your blog:

    Go check it out.


  3. Wow, I'm so glad that BeyondPlastic shared your blog on our Meet & Greet ... it is amazing and so thoughtful! I've added you to my blog roll!

    I think that there's a lot to be said for example and sticking to one's ethics. It's not always easy and the process isn't fast but people do notice. I was once in a grocery store line and when I got to the cashier I pulled out my reusable bag. This was back in the day when reusable bags weren't as common. The cashier looked at me like I had two heads and asked me about 3 times if I was really sure that I didn't want one of their bags. I told her I'd bag everything myself and proceeded to do so. A man, about 3 behind me in line, excused himself and I saw him go out the front door. In a moment he returned with his own reusable bags. We may not always know the impact we have on others ... but rest assured that there are people out there who get the message and act on it. And just maybe that will snowball!

  4. How I fervently wish that we will all wake up...

    Have you seen this yet?