Monday October 23rd 2017

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A Timely Thought

It has been over a week since my last blog posting.  Hopefully, you noticed and perhaps even lamented the omission.  So, what kept me from writing?  Did I run out of things to say?  Been traveling?  Bed-ridden with illness?

Alas, nothing so major — I just didn’t have time.  I recently started a new job so that has greatly cut into my blogging time.  On Wednesday I traveled to New York do a talk on sustainability (“The American Dream, The World’s Nightmare”) for an organization.  Most of my nights leading up to this event were spent working on adding new slides and revamping the presentation.  So, just not much time.

In our current society most of us are asset rich and time poor.  We have so much stuff in fact that the self-storage industry is one the fastest growing sectors in America.  You know the places, those little sheds that many of us rent each month to hold all the extra stuff that doesn’t fit in our current home.  This is especially ironic given the average house size has grown dramatically during the same time period while average household size has shrunk! (so bigger and bigger houses, with fewer and fewer people in those houses, and we still don’t have enough space for all our stuff)

 To pay for all this stuff Americans work longer hours than workers in just about any other industrialized country.

We work longer hours than the English, the French, and much more than the Germans and the Norwegians.  We take less vacation.  We retire later.  
The more time we spend working the worse the impact on the planet and our souls.  Why?
With rising incomes we have more and more money to buy things.  Bigger homes.  Bigger TVs.  More TVs.  Bigger and fancier cars.  Multiple cars.  More and more clothes.  More gadgets.  You know the drill.
But with all those extra hours at work we have less time for ourselves.  Less time to spend with our families.  Less time to engage with our communities.  Less time for the things that actually make us human.  We are are social beings.  Our well-being, our happiness is fundamentally rooted in our connection to others.  We are becoming more and more isolated, more individualistic, and less connected to others.   Depression rates are 10x higher than 50 years ago.  We have the highest divorce rate in the world.  We have the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Drug use is a constant problem.
To fill the void we consume more.  The buzz is nice, but it soon wears off.  That new ipod will never fill the void left by a disenfranchised family, distant friends, and no sense of belonging to community.  But we keep trying.  “Retail Therapy” anyone? 

In a sustainable world we will be asset poor but time rich.  We will work less, perhaps 20 hours a week.  Maybe 3 days a week.  With less income we will consume much less, reducing our burden on the planet.  Imagine living in a place where you now have time.  Time to really play with your children.  Time to go on a long walk.  Time to walk to the store.  Time for a bubble bath.  Time to actually cook and taste a meal.  Time to plant food and harvest it.  Time to tinker around the house.  Time to read all those books you’ve wanted to read.  Time to, gasp, re-read the same book. Time to learn to play the guitar.  Time to spend with your grandmother.  Time to improve your tennis serve (I need a lot of time for that one).  Time to nap.  Time to help your friends.  Time to volunteer.  Time to sing.  Time to dance. Time to walk the dog.  Time to write your senator.   Time to read great blog posts.  Time to write great blog posts.  Time to do, well, nothing at all.

Time to imagine the world we really want. 

It’s time to make it happen.  Work Less.  Buy Less.  Live More.

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