Although my initial motivation for living a low-footprint life was “to help the environment,” I quickly discovered other, very compelling PERSONAL benefits that have kept me going even when making a low-footprint choice requires extra effort.
One such personal benefit is greatly reduced financial overhead (thanks to having a $15 electricity bill, no car payment, no car insurance payment, etc.).
Which also means having a lot more free time, because I don’t have to work long hours just to earn the money I need to meet my basic living expenses.
And it even goes deeper than just “more free time.” It’s more like, “more free space in my head.” Life is a lot calmer in the alternate universe of my low-footprint life.
So you might ask what I do with all that freed-up time and headspace. And my honest answer would be, Not much! At least not much in terms of being externally observable as noteworthy. Oh sure, I volunteer in my community, participate in city government meetings, things like that. And last year I wrote my first book (DEEP GREEN), and this year I’ve been marketing the book, and also working on my first novel.
But really, in the scheme of things, I don’t do all that much. I’m pretty sure I’m not one of those human whirlwinds of whom people ask, “How DOES she do it all?”
What I DO do, that’s noteworthy to me internally (as opposed to observable externally), is … I have time to breathe. I have time to enjoy the shadows that appear on the wall at different times of day in the different rooms of my house. Shadows of flickering leaves, birds, bending palm fronds, passing cars. Time to converse with neighbors who happen to be passing by.
As the Blue Oyster Cult put it (in one of my favorite songs from my high-school years, “Burning for You”), I’ve got “time everlasting … time to play B-sides.” Interestingly enough, even as a teenager with a secure roof over my head and no concern except school, I never felt like I had the time to invest in playing the B-sides of records. Now finally I do have that time! (Though I own no actual records, as in vinyl-based recordings of music, I get to do the equivalent of “playing B-sides” every time I take a moment to savor a perfectly ordinary moment of the day which turns out to be juicy technicolor.)
I have time to read the books that have been sitting on my bookshelves for years. I’m finally settling into writing, something I always “was going to do” but never really got serious about. Finally sinking my teeth in instead of giving up at any sign of difficulty (and trust me, I experience MANY moments of difficulty and pain with writing). Finally making it a day-in, day-out thing.
Some years back, I had the urge to just stop buying new books and other new stuff, until I had caught up with all the books, art supplies, other stuff that was already under my own roof. Although I never completely stopped buying books (or art supplies), I slowed down a lot on those purchases. And I’m gaining on the backlog of unread, unused stuff under my own roof. And I’ve gotten great satisfaction from refining my focus to the things I’ve decided I want to pursue in greater depth.
One of my favorite writers, David Cain of Raptitude.com, devised the concept of a “Depth Year” — a year of “going deeper rather than wider.” His idea resonated with a lot of people. It definitely resonated with me! As David observes in his recent blog post (see link at the end of this post), “We live in great danger of keeping our most cherished pursuits unexplored, buried in the realm of ‘potential.’ Going deeper means finally seeing what’s really going to come of them. And that’s damn scary.”
I didn’t set out to make this past year a “depth year”; rather, I have been setting out to make my whole life a “depth year.” Although I expect I’ll take up new interests as the years go by, I have certain core pursuits that I plan to keep focusing on and deepening. Along with writing, my core pursuits include art, personal growth (deliberate evolution of consciousness), and (of course) low-footprint living and setting an example of same to others.
As you might imagine, the “depth year” concept goes really well with the “zero-waste journey” and low-footprint living. You might even have tried the “depth year” experiment yourself. I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
May the last day of 2018 bring you many blessings. Enjoy today! And enjoy the transition to a brand new number on the calendar.
• Why the Depth Year Was My Best Year: “Towards the end of last year I proposed an idea that unexpectedly caught fire: what if, for a whole year, you stopped acquiring new things or taking on new pursuits. Instead, you return to abandoned projects, stalled hobbies, unread books and other neglected intentions, and go deeper with them than you ever have before. … Because it’s so easy to acquire new pursuits, we tend to begin what are actually enormous, lifelong projects (such as drawing, or language-learning) too often, and abandon them too easily. This chronic lack of follow-through makes us feel bad, but worse than that, we never actually reach the level of fulfillment we believed we would when we first bought the guitar or the drawing pencils …”