1.02.2018

We begin again // elspeth


The upheaval of the last year was big. I would say bigger than I imagined, but that's not true. I have an active imagination, and it tends toward the worst. 2017 was roughly on course, or maybe slightly better, than I imagined it would be. The upheaval started out political, but for me as for many I know, it quickly got personal. As in: if I do not believe in this system, in what ways am I perpetuating it? How am I complicit? What can I change?

And so I started last year with a list. I accomplished or at least attempted many of the items on it. Some were small and some were big (keep a careful garden record; get an EV). Some had to do with food, others with community and volunteering. In retrospect, the big things were not necessarily the ones I thought they would be: the electric motor we got for our bucket bike was much simpler and also much more transformative than the electric car: not so much in terms of carbon emissions, but in terms of happiness. The local climate action group I started has morphed into a bigger, better, and more wonderfully unwieldy thing than I'd have thought. "Make something in a crock" turned out to be a resolution about friendship, not food. 


A lot of this last year for me was about walking outside of my comfort zone. I like to feel with others but I prefer to think alone; for me thinking, growing community projects with groups are hard. It challenges me, and I want to keep up with that challenge. But as much this year ended up being about  challenge, it was also about acceptance. I read a great quote sometime back in September about climate change, from an article on eco-anxiety published on Grist.org

"When you feel anxious and out of control in the face of a changing planet, choose the thing that you can do best and most effectively, and then don't let others ruin your faith in it."

It's good advice, not just for climate challenges but for life. There's a big sign above my desk these days. "EMBRACE WHO YOU ARE," it says. It's tacked up next to a photograph of my grandmother at 95 and a hand-drawn sketch of a farm Alex and I visited in November. Below it is a picture of us taken at our staff party in late September. Alex is holding his hand up to stop the camera, and we're jostling each other, laughing. It is late at night and we are in a bar. I put my pants through the laundry the next day without realizing the polaroid was in my pocket, and the picture is tattered around the edges, but our grins and our togetherness are unmarred.

I'm not making out loud or on paper resolutions this year. They haven't changed much from last year's list on the fridge, or the 2013 one still taped up behind my bathroom cabinet door. I know the things I do best and most effectively. Keeping the faith is the challenge, the thing to work on. It's the part that's most important, and also most hard.

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