“the green thing”

an anecdote that found its way to my inbox:


“In line at the grocery store, a cashier told the elderly woman checking out that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment. The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

“That’s our problem today,” the cashier responded. “The former generation
did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right, that generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, they returned their milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over—so they really were recycled.

But they didn’t have the green thing back in their day.

In her day, they walked up stairs, because they didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. They walked to the grocery store and didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time they had to go two blocks.

But she was right. They didn’t have the green thing in her day.

Back then, they washed the baby’s diapers because they didn’t have the throw-away kind. They dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts—wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that old lady was right, they didn’t have the green thing back in her day.

Back then, they had one TV and/or radio in the house—not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a hankerchief, not a screen the size of Montana. In the kitchen, they blended and stirred by hand because they didn’t have electric machines to do everything for you.

When they packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, they used a wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap.

Back then, they didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. They used a push mower that ran on human power. They exercised by working so they didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she was right, they didn’t have the green thing back then.

They drank from a fountain when they were thirsty instead of using a disposable cup or plastic bottle every time they had a drink of water. They refilled their pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and they replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor when the blade got dull.

But they didn’t have the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or rode the school bus instead of turning their moms into a 24 hour taxi service. They had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And they didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful the old folks were just because they didn’t have the green thing back then?”


a letter i wrote to myself on the digital detox retreat, to be delivered just after my birthday

hey you!

if you’re reading this letter, you’ve turned 28 and you’re not dead. on the outside, at least; are you still being aware, and present, and mindful? are you using what feel like failures as opportunities for change and growth? are you writing down your thoughts instead of thinking about how exhausting that may be and doing something easier instead. are you allowing yourself to take risks, and allowing yourself to “fail”? are you grateful to your body, kind to your mind, thinking in terms of what you have accomplished instead of what you haven’t? make sure to keep smiling at people—big, genuine smiles. it won’t matter if they think you’re crazy, it won’t matter if they don’t smile back. maybe it’s because they forgot how to smile and they need you to reteach them. make sure that when you give hugs they’re long, and real. say gratitudes every day, different ones; if you don’t feel like you have anything original to be grateful for, go do something.

i don’t know where you’re heading when it comes to food, or love, or work, or purpose. you probably won’t either. just remember to be right where you are whenever you’re there. know that it can disappear in an instant, but don’t live in fear or dread, or with guilt.

you’re kind to others, but don’t just do it because you don’t know how to be kind to yourself—you have to learn that, too. maybe one day you will even believe those kindnesses.

you can be happy or sad, or strong or weak; you can be any dichotomy, anywhere on any spectrum, as long as you are here, and you are now.

please know you’re loved…

january 27, 2013

opening my mind

my whole life, i rejected and felt no interest in learning about other cultures, because as an immigrant what i cared most about was fitting into mainstream america. safety and security lay in definitions and cultural barriers. now that i’m seeing the maladaptiveness of this mindset, i am striving to learn instead not how to be a specific kind of person but simply to learn what and who the world is made up of and in doing so learn what it means to be a person. instead of looking for the right or wrong way, what fits and what does, i’d like to learn to just be.

digital detox

family dinner, silence beads, basket of blankets, typewriter, tea, building the fire, lemon coconut truffles, gratitudes, sweet potato curry with cabbage slaw and quinoa, getting lost in the redwoods.

“i went on a date with myself and never called myself again” — neta

i am grateful for newness, and for sameness.

“right now this house is full of light and love and warmth. we’re back from montgomery, sitting together in front of the fire, and there is laughing and discourse and guitar. another reminder that i want my life to be different from how it is now, but i don’t know in what way.”

i am grateful for my body and my mind, which in the real world never feel like enough but here are just right. i am grateful that my body and mind are now strong enough to embrace and participate in all the ways i challenge myself.

“the world is so big and overwhelming and beautiful and frightening and i don’t know its meaning or my purpose.”

real world: digital detox.

easy joys

watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can’t put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don’t overlook life’s small joys while searching for the big ones.

— H. Jackson Brown Jr.