Normally, I have a plan, a desire for what I want in the new year. Not this time. This past new year's eve, I watched TV, surfed the 'net, enjoyed the fireworks my neighbors set off. I did not light candles to meditate to, write myself a letter, sum up the last year and think about where to head in the new.
I didn't miss my usual new year's ritual.
The world is currently wrapped up in worries about jobs, oil, food, global warming, wars. None of it matters in my daily life. Not yet. Never has, really. The US embassy has warned American citizens not to participate in any demonstrations, but I have never marched for peace or against war, anyway
None of it matters, what the newspapers say. Ultimately, it's not about what others do. There will be no peace between nations if we all feel entitled to react in anger in our own personal relationships. There will be no clean air or water if we all feel our needs justify a number of gadgets that use electricity or that we deserve a house with a yard somewhere where no busses run. There will be no environment to value if we as individuals do not demand of ourselves to make one significant change, like refusing to buy bottled water for a year. As a single woman, I often buy what I call factory food. My goal in 2009 will be to focus on using food that is the same in the store as it was when it left the ground.
I'd much rather spend more money on locally and organically grown food, and go without something else. Just how new does a cell phone have to be to be useful? Do we really need to phones that play music? Must we have our ears filled with music most of the day? Do we have to be accessible to everyone constantly? Do we have to be online and electronically available every hour of the day? Do we have to eat meat every day of the week? Do we have to indulge in bashing each other on blogs or talk shows?
There's a lot of habits we in the west have acquired and that poorer countries, now coming into money, are adopting, like at least one car per household, meat daily, all sorts of rechargeable gizmos that must be disposed of as hazardous waste, and everything wrapped in plastic.
I do recycle, and my usual garbage consists of one bag of true garbage, and one each of plastics, glass and metal, and paper. It doesn't matter that the recycling is not defined as garbage. It's still waste. It's just going to have a different future than non-recyclable waste. But somewhere it is piling up, costing energy and water to become usable again.
I know why my grocery store wraps bell peppers individually in plastic. It protects them better during transport. I can't do anything about that, and there's the trade-off: No individual wrapping means more spoilage, which doesn't help, either.
As I write this, I discover my new year's resolution, a goal for 2009: I want to return to my more vegetarian ways, attempt to bring less that will be waste into my home, and do my bit to slow the demand on meat and electricity. It's all going to be a challenge, partly because I am fond of such things as eggs and cheese. And electronic gizmos.