I'm horribly mean-spirited sometimes. I just can't help it. What can I say, I'm a sarcastic jerk. It's innate. Sometimes I can keep that aspect of my personality -- nah, forget "aspect," that is my personality -- under wraps, but it's always there, lurking, ready to lash out.
I was reading the blog this morning about The Compact, a group of Bay Area people dedicated to leading a less consumer-oriented lifestyle. Honestly, I applaud the rationale behind what they're saying. But (this is me, remember, so there's always a "but," or a "butt"....) ya know, looking over the last several blog posts from the group, I just had to laugh.
These people are in San Francisco... yet one of them is talking about jetting off to London to go to school! And soliciting donations (granted, tongue-in-cheek) and seeking scholarships to do so. I mean... aren't some of the best schools in the world in California? Ah, but it's way more cool to be a jet-setter and head to London for an education. Global warming be d@mned, I'm going to learn about conservation! And if I can get other people pay for it, so much the better!
Some of these people make their living working with dogs, and write about how working with dogs brought them to a better understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. Or something like that. There are few things more destructive to the natural world than dogs. Having lived in Oregon, I grew absolutely sick every time I read stories of how a cougar, bobcat, or bear had to be tracked down and killed because "it's stalking the neighborhood dogs." These would be neighborhoods built in what used to be forests, of course. "We want to live in the woods, but we don't want any of those nasty animals around. Just our doggies and kitties."
How can a person dedicated to "simplifying" his or her life even consider owning a dog? Dogs are high maintenance, needing to be fed, groomed, medicated, trained, and cleaned up after. Pet food is a multi-billion dollar industry ($14.7-billion, to be precise). Pet owners are pathetic pawns of the advertising industry. And, pet owners, particularly dog owners, are selfish. Their petty need for personal dominance over an animal intrudes on my desire for a life of "simplicity" every time their d@mn dog barks at me when I walk by on the sidewalk, every time their howling brute keeps me awake at night, every time I have to step out of the way on the jogging path to make way for the entangling leads of a couple (it's never just one dog anymore, it seems) of straining pit bulls.
Don't talk to me about simplifying and making do with less if you own a dog.
I'm into making do with less. I want to de-clutter my life. In fact, as soon as I finish this snippy little finger-pointing rant, I'm going to go tackle this ridiculous mess.
But don't get all holier-than-thou about the size of your eco-footprint when you're attending media soirées, jet-setting to London, walking dogs, and living in one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. It makes you sound kind of silly.
As I said near the beginning of this rant, I'm a mean-spirited, sarcastic jerk. While I appreciate the concept espoused by The Compact people, I find some of their choices to be arbitrary, occasionally antithetical to the creed they espouse, and frequently laughable. Maybe I harbor some biases from having lived in Eugene, Oregon, and having known a number of "trust-fund hippies" who blathered on about organic, green, Earth-friendly, eco-conscious recycling stuff while living in the big house (with redwood siding, natch) bought with "family money" and spending their weekends smoking dope. When it comes to the concept of learning to make do with less, I lean more toward the practical populist approach of Don Aslett. While it's easy to dismiss Aslett as a glorified janitor who hawks cleaning supplies on QVC, he makes sense to me when he says things like this:
Let me tell you the bottom line of gain from dejunking and removing clutter. Everyone in this world wants to be better and better. We want to get rid of our bad habits. Whether it is eating habits, swearing habits, or clutter habits. Changing some of these habits is more difficult because they’re intangible. But junk is tangible, and when you throw out a piece of junk, you start developing a pattern that becomes a great carryover in your life. By throwing out these tangible things we hang on to, a quiet spirit will creep into your being and testify to you, “You don’t need stuff to be happy.” And when that happens, people are going to find that they can get rid of other habits they’ve been holding on to.
There are three types of junk…in you, on you, and around you. Emotional junk is inside of you. Feelings and emotions that clutter your mind. We have clutter on us and we have clutter around us, like the piles of stuff in the garage. It’s all the same thing. The biggest reason to get rid of clutter is that when you rid yourself of it, the mental and emotional stuff leaves you at the same time. That is worth it. You can’t ask for anything that is more life restoring than that.
Maybe, after I get rid of some of the junk, I can learn to be less of a sarcastic, opinionated jerk.