There are lots of websites and blogs out there telling you how to prepare for the coming unpleasantness due to the Peak Oil/economic “re-balancing”/climate changes that are on their way. Some folks are even making a living at it (on the Internet, no less). No problem there; part of this blog is about spreading the news of reality – things are going to be different, the religion of progress has promised things that can’t continue, and yes, serious climate change is afoot.
It is hard, however, once you discover the truth of Peak Oil, and the corresponding unpleasantness noted above. We are emotional beings, and our resistance to reality (cue Kübler-Ross, of course) is always a problem, especially if you are older. Changes we should make to our lives are put off, and old habits are sometimes hard to break.
For example, if you get up in the morning, and have to go to work, you can opt to drive, take the train or bus, or bike. If the weather is perfect, your company or workspace has a locker room and showers, and your arrival time isn’t critical, taking the bike seems like an easy choice. But if the weather is bad (or not perfect), this smart-for-you-the-planet-and-your-wallet choice may not be the one you take. The reason this particular vexing situation is brought up, of course, is because this is one of those things that happens to me semi-regularly! My office is only about four miles away from my residence, and biking is actually the fastest mode of transportation, but in the middle of a New England winter, it can be incredibly daunting.
The reason this is brought up is because my usual mode is to take my bicycle – it is actually faster, parking isn’t an issue, it is good exercise, and yes, the environmental impact is far lower than driving. It has become my go-to mode of transport, but still, the automobile option still awaits (on miserable days) and still, there are times when getting in the car is an option for me.
The why of using a bicycle was relatively a no-brainer; the implementation was a bit tough. Taking a bike means thinking more about what is in your backpack; bringing a patch kit; paying attention to the weather, and logistical concerns. The interesting thing is, as soon as you get over the ‘activation energy hump’ of starting to bicycle places, biking feels so much better – especially when you get to your destination, and parking isn’t a problem!
This step of ‘doing the good/right/sensible thing’ is obvious in retrospect, but getting over that first hump is the tricky one. Quitting smoking and exercising, going from junk food to eating more sensibly – all are in the same category, and again, there are legions of books and websites about how to achieve these goals.
Bicycling, becoming a pescetarian (eating only fish, and cutting out chicken/pork/beef), working on things that feel in line with an internal moral code, learning lots of new skills, investing in real goods instead of ephemera, not watching television – these are all things that have been hallmarks of ‘peak awareness’ in my life. Talking (and blogging!) as the old proverb goes, “doesn’t cook rice.” It isn’t easy. There are still days of backsliding, but also ones where forward motion happens.
Different people have different difficult tasks. If you live in a rural area, biking places might be tough, but raising a garden might be easier. In a major city, finding work more in line with your own moral code could be easier than if you lived in a one-company town, if you had kids, if you had specific skills that made it tough to move, or if you have a crushing student loan debt.
One of the easiest ones to transition to (and one that can be done generally anywhere, in my opinion), was becoming a pescetarian. Eating meat, as tasty as it was, isn’t that good for most of us, and the environmental impact is pretty big. Not flying was another one.
As always, these posts bring up more questions than answers:
- After you discovered these new realities, what concrete steps did you take, even if they were tiny ones? Did someone personally clue you in to these things, or was this something you discovered on your own?
- What was one of the easiest thing to do?
- What was one of the hardest?
- How did you handle backsliding?
- How did you convince your loved ones to change their habits?
- What would you recommend to others, in any circumstances?
- What do you want to do, but are having trouble doing?
- Are there things you will never give up?
We, of course, close with this classic:
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.