Fighting green dreams deferred

Image via Draper, Inc.

Image via Draper, Inc.

On this blog, I make an effort to present easy ways to adapt a sustainable lifestyle. But let’s face it. Sometimes being green isn’t easy. An eco-friendly, healthy lifestyle becomes particularly challenging when you aren’t starting from scratch. This has never been more clear to me than when I consider my current home.

As a single writer, my personal and professional writing often drifted towards trendsetting, state-of-the-art, uber innovative sustainable structures. I developed this vision of my future that was limited only by my bank account. (I am a writer after all.) I would live in a part of town with great public transit and a pedestrian-friendly setting. My house would be this exemplary sustainable oasis: it would be net zero, of course, so we could live off grid if needed.  We’d have no energy bills, living comfortably in a house that basically heats, cools, and ventilates itself. We would recycle graywater for non-potable purposes. My lot would be big enough for a decent garden, full of ample sunlight and spilling over with the most nutritious and beautiful fruits and vegetables seen on this side of heaven. All interior finishes would be zero VOC and we’d have air clean enough to resuscitate the dead and dying.

Image via Eden Arise

Image via Eden Arise

That is not my reality right now. My reality isn’t bad by any means: I’ve got an extremely spacious, comfortable home that protects my husband and I, and our pets, from the elements. It’s got these great floor-to-ceiling windows in the kitchenette that overlook our forested backyard. Deer, owls, bunnies, foxes, and hawks regularly stop by for breakfast. And I do have space for two little gardens that have been a great learning experience over the past year. It’s a pretty awesome set up by traditional standards and I know that my husband has worked hard to make it a great place for me.

The challenge comes when expectations and reality don’t quite line up. Nearly every article that I write for work reminds me of what I’m not doing right, what I could be doing better, and the advances that are being made in the industry that leave us behind in the dust. Oh, and that much of our current lifestyle is contributing needless damage to the planet. *sigh*

I came across a quotation by Wayne Dyer, “Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is rather than as you think it should be.”

Peace dreams vs realityYes, her dreadlocks are awesome, but that’s not the point. What I gathered is that I am always going to be frustrated by how much greener I can be. There is always more that we can do. But accepting what I have now, what I can do now, and making peace with that is the best way to remain sane until things can change.

We aren’t in a position to sell the house tomorrow and build a cute little ultra-efficient home near Decatur Square. I don’t have the ideal space for a sun-drenched garden. We can’t liquidate all of our furniture and replace it with upcycled, sustainably sourced, fairly traded, and handmade niceties from around the globe. Our energy bills are ungodly. We have to drive 30 minutes to get anywhere. I have no idea how to sow my own clothes or raise my own damn chickens. That should not mean that I’m chronically dissatisfied.

What it means is that I’ve got to do the best with what I have, maintain a spirit of gratitude, and slowly press forward until I can bring my dreams within reach. A dream deferred isn’t necessarily a dream aborted. It’s just a dream on a Cesna rather than some NASA jet.

I hope that’s a bit of encouragement for anyone struggling to make big life changes in the face of daunting odds.

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