I have to recognize that slowing down physically doesn't require me to stop being productive or useful. I just have to do more of it from my desk and less from the car. I have to organize and build my volunteer network so that when stores have food to donate, I don't have to get it myself. I have to get the app into my drivers' and donors' hands so we can work out all the kinks and then offer it to other communities to help solve the food waste problem.
All that is easier said than done. There are a lot of pieces I don't know how to accomplish yet, and I'll need more mental energy than I have this week. Here's hoping healing comes quickly, at least to my mind and spirits, so I can tackle the puzzles at hand.
This is such a tiny thing in the grand scheme of life. Change your lifestyle. Sure, OK, I'm on it. But we don't like change, do we? We certainly don't like slowing down, accepting that we're able to do much less, cutting back the budget, downsizing the house, getting rid of all that stuff that we saved for a reason, some reason, that we can't remember anymore.
A friend was notified recently that her rent would be increasing by 50%. No way her modest budget could accommodate that. She's lucky to have adult children nearby who own their home. They've converted a back yard shed into a granny pod -- a 500 square foot cottage where she can live within her means. 500 square feet. My closet is more than 500 square feet, and sometimes it's not big enough!
How do we change? Slow down? Cut back? Downsize? How do we take everything that represents our lives, our impact on the world, our dreams, and our hearts, and slash it down to 500 square feet, or to the limits set by doctors, or to live within our means when our means don't seem to be nearly enough? How does the disabled senior employee provide for herself when the job dries up? How does the self-employed guy bounce back when illness closes his business? How indeed.
I saw a real estate listing today for a house over on the east side of Portland (which I've always thought of as lower in property value than the Bethany area where we live). The home is about the same size as ours, maybe slightly larger, but only three bedrooms and on a smaller lot than ours. It's nicely landscaped and has a lot more curb appeal than ours. (Someday I'll have my garden -- someday.) It was built 90 years ago, compared to our 50 year old home. The asking price? $725,000. Dollars. Srsly. It's a cute house, but come on!
Less than 20% of homes being built today are considered "entry-level," that is, inexpensive enough for a first-time buyer to hope to qualify for one at some point. If they've saved $20,000 or more, if they have perfect credit including paying all their student loans and medical bills on time, and if they can gather enough roommates to share the mortgage payment. Some pretty big ifs.
Just as we baby boomers are aging and cutting back and downsizing, our society is facing similar changes. Gone are the days of throwing anything and everything in the trash, of buying imported out-of-season fruit, of flying off for vacation anywhere we wish. The world needs to cut back. We need to get off fossil fuel and quit with the landfill system already. We need to grow vegetables instead of lawns and buy local and be mindful of the destruction left in the wake of our choices. We need to buy less and reuse more. And we need to teach our young people how to walk gently on this planet and to share it with people of all shapes and sizes and colors and faiths, not to mention all other forms of life we're lucky enough to share this home with.
We have to change. We know it. We don't like it. We have to do it anyway. And it's not going to be pretty. We're going to try and fail and try again and forget and retry and need one another to remind us why it's important. It's as hard as quitting smoking, as an addict choosing sobriety, as losing weight and embracing an active lifestyle. It's tough. Life is tough. I'm going to give it my best effort today. I'll deal with tomorrow when tomorrow comes.