Thursday, April 28, 2011

Part of the Solution

Folks living the Pacific Northwest may have difficulty understanding this photo. We are both wearing hats and sunglasses as protection against UV rays.

Last week I broke all my own rules. Jen and got a ride to the airport in a car and hopped on a plane to Salt Lake City. We rented a mini-SUV when we arrived and drove hundreds of miles to be deposited in sunny southern Utah. We bought a styrofoam cooler to keep our beer reasonably cold and threw it away at the end of our trip. In all likelihood, Jen and I quadrupled our average monthly footprint over the last ten days.

I also had a really good time wondering around the desert hanging out with my best friend and spending some time with my parents.

The problem is that my brain easily takes the the walk down pessimism lane and I find it exceeding difficult to ignore that the rate at which we consume fossil fuels in the United States is completely unsustainable. Conflict ensues in the world over this resource, yet I still get on an airplane and fly thousands of miles for a few days of pleasure a couple times every year. Sooner or later the price of extracting oil from the ground will not be economically advantageous for anyone, but it seems not before we burn a lot more of it, and kill hoards of folks fighting for the last remaining drops. Although we all close our eyes tight, plug our ears, and scream real loud in the face of facts, our planet is getting warmer and dryer each year. We fight for oil today, water tomorrow.

Jen and I got upgraded to first class on our way to Utah. I had a coffee in a ceramic cup and Jenny watched Big Love on HBO. I did my best to play rich, but my dirty Carhartts, Pink Yoda t-shirt and perpetual bad smell didn't help the act.

I picked up the on-board Delta Destinations Magazine and read that the Boeing Airplane Company just landed a 35 billion-dollar contract to build military refueling planes for the Pentagon. It occurred to me that thousand of jobs will stay in the Puget Sound as the result of this contract, and my life will improve. When families have good jobs, they pay the taxes that write the paychecks of public school teachers like me every month. Without Boeing, I might not have a job. As much as I like to think that riding my bike to work somehow excludes me from the “Part of the Problem” club, it seems it is hard to escape the benefits of living in a military industrial economy without somehow being connected to the suffering of others. Soon one of those planes is going a refuel a jet that will drop a bomb on some "legitimate" target in our ever-expanding theater of world conflict. It might miss its mark by a couple hundred yards and make orphans out of some children whose dad was just on his way to work. He might be a teacher like me.

But hey my IRA is up a couple hundred dollars, I am flying first class and capitalism goes marching on. And really, none of us should go asking questions that don’t have easy answers. I think I’ll just tell myself it’s all going to be OK.

I digress, and wasn’t I supposed to be talking about my carbon positive vacation in the desert? On second thought, I think I was. You see, I have spent more than a few days with my forgiving wife ranting like I do about the race to the bottom and the demise of the World as we know it. Frontdoor Adventures was born out of my need to have a productive way to outlet my frustrations about the world as I choose to see it. I have come to learn that nobody likes to be around a pessimistic prick, and I really don’t want to be one. At the end of the day I want my writing and my actions to convey a message of not only conviction, but hope.

I flew home on Sunday after a glorious 10 days of sunshine, family and friends. Monday I got on my bike and rode to work in the rain and returned to my efforts to live as small as I am reasonably able. One of glorious things that I have discovered through this project is that like riding my bike, writing helps me find the silver lining that I need for my sanity. Sometimes I fall short of my own ideals, but still continue my struggle to be part of the solution.

Livin' the Dream


Desert Art. I see The Scream by Evard Munch

Little Wild Horse Canyon. San Rafael Swell, UT.

The lost art of chimney climbing.

Sunshine makes girls from Southern California happy.

Snowman, a little out of his element but always happy to be included.

I found a pair of discarded socks in the desert and instead of putting them in may pack, I felt compelled to set them on fire. You never can know the whole story of used socks and the only safe bet is incineration.

All the comforts of home. Browns Coffee.

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