The almost daily issues that are planted, leaked, framed and disclosed in the media, are appraisals; prepackaged and prepared for consumption and consideration, by others, for you and me.
Although I am more than willing to jump into the evaluation game, debating what’s best for the world in general, what is more satisfying to me these days is inventing things I can do myself, without marshaling political pressure, forming ad hoc interest groups, stumping for legislation or buying lobby influence, what I can do now, without delay, to make my presence in the world a more acceptable experience for both me and my host planet. These days, I find the process of defining what I can do without and what I can get by with less of, a measurably rewarding activity and subtly enlightening… Here’s what my fall and winter have been like, in this regard, so far.
I’m doing landscaping and cleanup work on a rental house I own in Palmdale, 120 mi away from home. It was in the path of a mudflow in September and I’ve been spending 2 to 4 days a week there since. There is little to distract me, when I’m there, I only have an air mattress to sleep on, a stove for cooking and a table & chair to work at. It’s very quiet and I’m able to work and think without distraction, an odd luxury in the crowded excess and congestion I’ve come to accept. It’s peaceful, relaxing and it’s also ripe for testing ideas.
Being naturally predisposed to a life of simplicity, I find myself doing things like buying a handful of cheap LED lights and discovering that they are all I need to read, walk around safely, prepare food & work in the evening. This small 4 bedroom, 2 bath house is lit, when I need it, on less than 10 watts. I stream MSNBC, Bravo and Current on my laptop, connected to the neighbors open wifi router through an extender. Electrically, I could generate 5 times more than I use with a 1,500kw solar panel during the cold and mild months. In the heat of summer, it would take more to run the AC. I am also getting by, while I’m there, without using the dish washer, washing machine, clothes dryer or refrigerator.
Water is heated, as is the house, with gas. The heater thermostat is set to 67 at night, coming on 10 minutes every hour, when the outside temperature is in the mid 20’s. It’s turned off all day and the inside temp is 65 of higher. The water heater is set to the lowest setting. That allows me to take a 20 minute shower and not run out of hot water and keeps the gas consumption to a minimum. I only buy a 1 day supply of perishable food at a time, relying on raw veggies, instant coffee, Raman, canned goods & wine – none of which requires refrigeration.
All-n-all, I don’t feel deprived of anything I need. I’m comfortable and more importantly, I have an inner peace and quiet; a little like camping without all the inconveniences. I wouldn’t mind turning the rental into a second home, an experiment in lifestyle that would allow me to make adjustments in consumption with minimal or no loss of comfort and let me reset expectations to some that are more sustainable and less environmentally excessive.