Monday, January 2, 2017

My Family or My Ideals

As you could see in my second-to-last post, I'm pretty bummed about our political situation right now.  I think we'll be fine, but I've never been more concerned about the environment than I am now, and I don't think those fears are unfounded.  This has caused me to reflect a lot about how I live my life.

A lifetime ago, I was an embarrassingly idealistic biology major at an ag school in Wisconsin.  I was going to teach high school science, and I was going to change the world one student at a time.  I believed this hard.  At one time, right after I finished watching Patch Adams, I turned to my parents, and with utter sincerity said, "I'm going to change the world."  I can only imagine what an insufferable little prick I must've been (I mean, even more so than I am now).

My god, what an unbelievable, unrepentant idiot I was.  I thought changing the world would take no more effort than it took to get As at a school that didn't give a + or -, so a 90% was good enough for an A.

As I got older, I realized that I don't have what it takes to change the world, but I still wanted to live my life such that I felt I was doing more good than harm.  I rode my bike everywhere.  I joined a CSA and bought local and organic.  I composted what I could, recycled what I could, and grudgingly threw away the rest.  I tried to fix rather than replace.  Of course, the cynic (realist?) in me knows that even at my best, we'd need 6 or 7 Earths to sustain that way of life if all us Earthlings lived as I was living, but I slept ok at night.

Flash forward to today.  I'm happily married, with one kid, and The Wife and I are talking about thinking about talking about Baby 2.  I love my life.  But when the snow fell, I stopped composting because shoveling a path to the compost bin would be too much work.  We drive an SUV.  We booked a winter vacation which will necessitate our 6th or 8th flight in the last year or so.  We still eat red meat on the regular.  After Baby 2, we'll pretend that our current house is too small and we'll look for something bigger, that will take more energy to heat and cool.  We'll probably shop for a bigger vehicle, or maybe a second vehicle.

I want to be the first to say, "BOO FUCKING HOO."  I try not to take what I have for granted, and I know that bitching about my CO2 emissions in the context of another vacation is insulting.  I know.  But this is my life and these are my thoughts.

These choices do occasionally keep me up at night.  The Wife is a willing partner in all these decisions, good and bad, but this will cause some fights in the future.  She will likely want a bigger house than I will.  That's a battle I'm willing to pick, but how hard should I fight?  There's nothing unique about it; you can argue that marriage is nothing but a series of battles exactly like this and you wouldn't exactly be wrong.  But it's like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) says: "A good compromise leaves everybody mad."

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