Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sustainable Saturday - The Pears are Laughing at You

 I hope an author I admire greatly, Scott Westerfeld, won't mind me using a point he made in a "pep talk" to NaNoWriMo participants, as the topic of today's post.

Years ago, when my spouse and I moved to rural Arkansas to pursue the "simple life", we found out that the "simple life" did not exist.  Life is a lot more complex than any of us can dream of.

We found out that (back in the 1980's anyway), the city life was the simple life.  You didn't have to make a whole lot of decisions.  In the rural "simple life", on the other hand, there was a decision wherever you turned. 

We were trying to be what was called "ecological" in those days (I think the closest term today would be "green")  and that made decisions even more difficult.

One example:  how to heat? In the city life your landlord provided the heat.  In the countryside you had to choose rhe fuel of choice:  Wood? Propane? Electric?  Wood was renewable but if you burned wood in a homemade wood stove made from a 55 gallon drum, it was very polluting.  Hmmm, hadn't thought of that....Solar panels? Nice thought, but they were terribly expensive, way beyond our budget.

 City life - you bought a refrigerator and plugged it in.  Country life - was a refrigerator "ecological?" Should we own one, and if so: would we use electric or propane? What were the advantages and disadvantages of each?

Food:  local but not organic?  Shipped in but organic?

(I've blogged about a similar choice many of us make today when we shop: local small merchant but merchandise made in China? Or big box store selling goods made in the U.S.A.?)

Each element of our lives needed a decision, and we quickly learned that what we thought was the most polluting choice was sometimes, overall, the best choice.  In other words, there were no simple choices, and we had to make the best choice for us, even if it wasn't "politically correct".

What Scott Westerfeld told us in yesterday's pep talk is a lesson we all should learn, not just people aspiring to be authors of a novel.  "Here's a funny thing about human beings: we always think too simply. The universe is always bigger, messier, and more complicated than we expect it to be."

As for the title of today's post, it is a paraphrase of something else Scott Westerfeld said, pointing out that even something as simple as a pear isn't simple at all - there are over 3,000. varieties of pears.

Broaden your horizons.  Learn as much as you can about this world.  Wisdom isn't always in the places you expect it to be.  I'm guilty of being close-minded sometimes, and I can probably say, truthfully, that even the most broad minded of us are.

The "sustainable" life involves thoughtfully considering the options and making a good decision that is right for you at that one point of time.

List all your options.  Think of all the possibilities.  When you exhaust your list, try to think of a few more.  If you can't come up with too many, then you may find that


Thank you, Scott.  As far as my writing I will try to remember that  "Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story."  I sure don't want those pears laughing at me.

1 comment:

  1. I'd buy the products made in the U.S.A. -- and then, I'd point out the need to break monopolies and to come up with more human- and eco-friendly production and distribution systems.


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