Bill Mollison, the co-founder of permaculture, suggested an interesting thought experiment: Imagine there are no trucks available to transport anything for, say, a week. What would happen? Our supermarket shelves would become empty! No fresh produce anywhere. Except in the front yard of one of my neighbors.
I am realizing that I cannot change a part of my life without changing other parts. Replacing my current field with another will not make my job more meaningful. To have meaning, to allow me to truly thrive as a human being, I need to live in a way that honors the whole system, a way that acknowledges the interconnections. To have my needs for meaning and fulfillment truly met, I will need to step back and look at every aspect of my life and simplify to reduce my impact on this world. I have started that already. It is not deprivation. It is freedom. The freedom to live in a conscious way, aware of the implications of my actions.
I am clearly not there yet. I still have a car. I still don’t reuse the water I wash the dishes in. The plants in my apartment are not edible. The first step is to become aware of these disconnects.
To truly have meaningful work, we need a meaningful life. A life where we are not afraid to think deeply about where the stuff we eat comes from; where we are not afraid to think deeply about the consequences of our actions for the next seven generations. We cannot change one part of our lives without changing others. But we have to start somewhere. I took a rather drastic step and quit my corporate job. I couldn’t take it anymore. Now I feel like I have a lot of healing to do: Heal myself, heal my relationships, and heal the planet. We’ll see where this journey will take me. I have already noticed, though, that because my time and energy isn’t drained by a corporate job anymore, I become aware of more interconnections. I have time to look deeply. Time to think, time to notice has become a luxury. It is part of my healing to take time out.