I've been watching "An Inconvenient Truth" over and over and over again. I just rented it for the first time. It's not that I didn't want to see it, didn't think it worth my time, or said anything that was relevant or untrue. It was just that I already knew global warming was a problem. I knew it and I didn't think there would be any information I hadn't already heard before.
And I was right.
What I wasn't expecting was how compelling and beautiful Al Gore is. I wasn't expecting him to feel SO STRONGLY about this issue, that it would radiate through my tiny television screen and shake me so hard, that it would bring me to tears.
He put me to shame.
But shame is a powerful motivator. You feel terrible and that lights a fire under your ass to change your thoughts, your heart ... your life.
What seems like a lifetime ago, i went through an extremely hard time in my life. One of the hardest I'll ever have to go through. Having spent most of my life with undiagnosed depression, the cheerful facade I used to hide behind took a hit I could not recover from when my 2 1/2 year relationship fell apart. It was the only thing holding me together and with out it, my life was in shambles. I was forced to face many factors in my life that helped contribute to my problems. Lost, I spent a financially crippling year unemployed turning desperately to school as a way to find myself again.
But I had spent the years of my life, where a young person typically forms their identity as an adult, in a relationship with a man who expected me to lose myself in his dreams and goals and life. And since my past was so full of sadness and pain, I gladly did so and abandoned myself.
And when he left me, for a woman he felt who could better melt away into whatever he wanted, I was left with not only the empty shell of who i use to be ... but with the shell of a girl, frozen in time from when I first let myself be lost. I had no direction, no focus, no dreams, nothing. I had NOTHING. School became impossible with no direction or idea of who I was. So, I dropped out. A lot.
And that year of unemployment and semester after semester of dropping out, I saw places so dark and felt things so painful, it terrified me, shamed me and pushed me to climb out. no matter what.
First thing I vowed to myself: never enter a relationship like that again. ever.
Second thing I vowed: fix yourself. now.
Third: GROW. Never stop for anything, or anyone.
Last thing I vowed: never let yourself fall as hard as you just fell ever again. never. ever. ever. end of story.
I set out to live a life of independence. To remember always, I must have a HEALTHY relationship with first, myself, then my parents and family, next my community, then, in time, a man. And the only way to enter a relationship that will last and be healthy and wonderful, is to be that individual and to have a life. A good life. With my own goals and dreams and hopes. And if I live in accordance to those things and keep myself always growing to be that person, then a man, the RIGHT man, will grow into me and my life. He will compliment me, not complete me, and I will have a life he will want to share WITH me, not give me.
This has been my life for a long time. A looooooong time. For 3 1/2 - 4 years, I have remained single. Seeking to make myself a strong person. An INDIVIDUAL.
And I feel, at 27, I have reached the point where I am strong. An individual.
But I have yet to find the life I want to lead.
The time I spent in Madison was lovely. I grew up there. I have almost all my family there, all of my friends. Great resources, an amazing art scene. But change must be made in my life. There must be MORE. I've outgrown my home town. Things were so tight, I could hardly breathe.
And just when I thought I was going to scream from being in Madison, my friend Natalee needed a roommate for her move to Milwaukee. Milwaukee was probably the LAST place I wanted to move to, but I love Natalee. She's one of those people who understands the importance of personal growth and she's the only person I know who can change and grow as much as me. Probably more.
Also, she's a person seeking to make the ecological changes in her life, to make less of a negative impact on the earth. Something I've been aware of, but haven't really known how to do myself.
And as luck would have it, we accidentally found ourselves living in Riverwest, a small neighborhood/community of DIYers, artists and politically aware people. People aware of the impact we have on our environment, who seek to change things.
And I sit here, tucked into this amazing little pocket of beauty and change, Al Gore's voice resounds in my head:
HOW SHOULD I SPEND MY TIME ON THIS EARTH?
This ... is not just a good question, or a compelling question. It is THE question. This is my compass that points me to North. This the question that both grounds me to reality, and give wings to my future.
How SHOULD I spend my time on this earth?
I tell myself every day, my goal is to live a GOOD life, an HONEST life, full of love and balance and peace, then I must live a life of simplicity. economically and ecologically. my life must be spent being an example to others that we CAN modify our lives to reduce our carbon footprints and our waste.
I've already gotten rid of my car. In madison, I took the bus on a daily basis. In Milwaukee, i walk every where. The last bus I was on was the Badger Bus that took me home to Madison, and before that, it was late July.
Unfortunately, I have yet to eliminate my footprint, by shopping locally, I am terrible at turning out lights (my roommate spends her weekends - thursday through late sunday night - in Madison, so I feel vulnerable.), i leave the TV running to create back noise and I'm guilty of leaving a lot of appliances plugged in that do not need to be.
I need to start setting goals for myself. One by one, knocking these bas habits out of my life. Turning off my lights, no matter what, I am perfectly safe with out them on. Unplugging anything doesn't need to be plugged in, shopping less and less at Pick-n-Save and more and more at the Co-Op (which is hard, since it is pretty darn expensive!).
I need to transform my life by starting small, then going big. And this means my life in the more distant future. Having a marriage and family that reflects these choices. Living in a community that supports this way of living. Starting a culture of youth that makes choices our parents should have made when they were younger, by making them now.
This is the life that lies ahead of me (and of you and of all of us) and this is how I will spend my time on this earth.
My family has always told me my legacy will be the family I will someday have. My goal today is to ensure that this someday family is one that makes the biggest impact it can ... and that is by not making one at all.