Monday, February 25, 2008

The Rainbow Connection

As I was driving home from work today, I saw 2 different rainbows. The first one initially seemed to "end" in a local cemetery, then moved on behind a "garbage hill" that's turned grassy and green (I've got very uplifting views on the way to work each day), and finally left its pot of gold somewhere under a minivan in the parking lot of a huge shopping center. The second one held its position off in the distance, over the next town, all the way home.

And aside from the breathtaking beauty of these refracted spectrums of light, it got me to thinking about the more traditional meaning of rainbows. The rainbow is a sign of the covenant between Noah and G-d after the flood, right? basically promising that it wouldn't happen again. (I"m not trying to get religious here...just rolling things around).

On the one hand, what an easy way to just start everything over from scratch (the Big Finger hits the delete button). On the other hand, by promising not to wash us out again, we the People have to get our act together and clean things up ourselves. What a huge responsibility, and yet, how very wise of the Big Dude upstairs to leave it in our hands.

How can I use this approach as a parent? as a citizen of the world? Empower the people around me, and under me (read: kids), hand over the reins (occasionally...let's not be too hasty here) to let them know I believe they're capable of doing whatever it is they need to do to make their own microcosm better.

And make sure they take their baths every evening to wash away those pesky little habits that get stuck behind the ears. No ark required.

I must have Kermit on my mind these I'll give him and Jim Henson the credit they deserve with the closing lyrics:
"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers and me.
(HAVE to include this too): La da da dee dee da dum..."

Photo credit: Andy Dean

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's not easy being green

Kermit was right. It's not easy being green, and the more I try, the more I meet resistance when trying to make healthier and environmentally friendly changes in my lifestyle that I find more and more important lately.

It started with the plastic bags. Although I am a super re-user of plastic bags for a million different purposes at home, I understand that if each person makes even a small effort to reduce the number of plastic bags they consume monthly, we can make a little dent in the piles of nondegradable waste in the world. So I decided to buy reusable grocery bags. And I searched, and I searched...and found some really expensive "designer" ones, which didn't even look all that sturdy, and wouldn't really even hold many groceries, and couldn't justify buying 10 of them for my weekly shopping needs. So I passed those up.

Then I heard that Supersol came up with a great big green reusable cloth bag, reasonably priced (3 shekels a bag) and I was very excited and determined - so I went to one store...all out. went to another store...all out. And not only were all the stores I tried all out, they were so NOT helpful when I asked about the bags. They didn't understand why it was so important to me to buy them, nor did they know (or care, it seems) when they might be getting more.
Okay, so I'm on hold with the bags...reusing old plastic ones in the meantime for each grocery store visit (though they don't last more than about 2 rounds).

Then, I saw on a news feature somewhere that Israeli companies were going to be required to put a little rabbit logo on all kinds of products to show that they don't do unnecessary testing on animals (shampoos, detergents, etc). So everytime I try to be a responsible consumer and go looking for that darn little bunny, he is nowhere to be found. Not on the local products, not on the imports...where is that wascaly wabbit ?

From another perspective, I've been reading more and more about the effects of various food additives on children's behavior, and decided to try and eliminate as many artificial colors, flavors, stabilizers, sweeteners, etc etc, as I can, not just for the behavior effects but really because it seems like the healthier way to go. But guess what...most products (on israeli supermarket shelves) don't even come close to giving enough details about their ingredients to enable me to make any kind of informed decision on what to buy or not. I suppose I could go to one of those health food stores where everything is overpriced and overlabeled - but in all honestly I don't have enough green in my wallet to make such green purchases on a regular basis.

There are a few things I'm working on, or have managed to do already:
1. We've stopped using plastic (disposable) cups.
2. I microwave only in glass or ceramic dishes, no more plastic
3. We bring all our big plastic bottles to the recycle bins, and all our glass bottles back for deposit
4. I started a vegetable garden - all organic, at least I know that its pesticide-free

Bit by bit, we're getting greener around the gills, and I'm trying to make sure the kids also understand the reasons behind everything. And I like using the word crunchy, although I wouldn't say I'm there yet.

So, just as I began, I will end with the immortal words of Kermit the Frog:
"It's not easy being green. But... green can be cool and friendly-like."


Funny how throughout my childhood, I saw the "Desiderata" regularly as just another framed picture on my grandparents living room wall - but never actually took the time to read it. I've seen it in a few other places here and there, but a recent post on the Happiness Project reminded me of it, and I felt a need to post it here too.

It was written in 1927 by Max Ehrmann, and a quick trip to wikipedia tells of his inspiration in writing Desiderata: "I should like, if I could, to leave a humble gift -- a bit of chaste prose that had caught up some noble moods." Hmmm...Isn't that actually what the blogosphere is all about ? (although not necessarily as eloquent...) - individuals leaving their mark and sharing their gifts of knowledge and talent with the rest of the world? Words are moving faster and farther across the globe than ever before, I only hope that they will be as inspirational and true as these.

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

People of the Void...speak up!

It took me a while, it did. And I like to think of myself as a web 2.0 savvy kinda gal, usually I pick up on things like this pretty quickly - but Twitter was slow in coming. For a long time, even after hearing about this cool new way to express my every mundane (or worse, incoherent) move and thought, I couldn't imagine why anyone would really want to know.

But finally I broke down, gave in, and signed up. On my first visit, I was basically hollering into a big black Void - not much to say, no one specific to say it to. Kind of desperate, actually. Tried it again the next day - and realized that most of what other people write is incoherent (strangely reassuring) - but they all seemed like they knew they had an audience of real people out there, people who would actually care what they were saying and respond, personally. Although for the life of me, I still don't really know how SO MANY people have SO MUCH time to stop what they're doing and shout it out to the People of the Void.

And tonight I saw the light. It's about having someone else listen (even if it's just an anonymous Void or people we don't really even know) to what we have to say. The days go by so quickly, so many thoughts rush through our heads at any given moment - some are lost as fast as they came, and others we'd really like to share. It doesn't really matter who we share them with - as long as we know they haven't gone unrecognized. Our tidbits of wisdom, insight, and wonder make us a kind of immortal (even if only for a few minutes) among a legion of followers. Some trivial, some really significant. Does it matter as long as someone is listening? And better yet, the People of the Void are responding....what a teeny tiny place the world becomes.

So who knew that the People of the Void around the world would be so eager to share those thoughts and experiences? (although some we would truly be better off not knowing!) The popularity of Twitter is proof that all we really want is to be heard and to share what we know. Most of the time, apparently, it doesn't really matter what we're saying. But we're there.

Got to go tweet now...

Hmmm...a song to go with this post? "Message in a Bottle" by the Police seems strangely appropriate:
Walked out this morning, dont believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion castaways, looking for a home
Ill send an s.o.s. to the world - I hope that someone gets my- Message in a bottle, yeah