Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Five R's

About a year and a half ago, my dear friend Lauren bought Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love for me and Amber and it changed my life. Seriously. So much so that I don't even lend it out to friends; I only recommend it to them.

This year I read Gilbert's book The Last American Man, which also changed my life. This biography is about Eustace Conway who was committed to learning to live off the land entirely, moving into a teepee to hunt and gather at age 17. She chronicles his journey of survival, ultimately tracking human evolution as Eustace tells her when he is in his 40's that what he dreams about at night is having a family and walk-in closets. Hmmm.

Ironically, we lost power for a week the day after I finished the book. I was all gung-ho to learn more about living off the land and re-acquainting myself with survival skills deeply buried in my DNA, then we have no heat, no power, no Internet and you would think I lost half of my brain. Eustace would be so disappointed.
The book still shifted things for me fundamentally.

One of my favorite things that Eustace says to the high school groups that he speaks to goes something like this:
All of us know that we need to recycle. You know: Reuse, Reduce waste, Recycle. What they don't tell you is there are 5 R's and those are the last 3. The first 2 are RECONSIDER and REFUSE.

I love that.

In these days of packing and transition, I am amazed at the volume of the Totally Unnecessary that I own, and even more appalled by my attachment to these things. I wish I had heeded the wisdom of the first 2 R's.

On a somewhat related note, my Wednesday schedule this Spring has been to drop the kids at pre-school and head to the River City Food Co-op to pick up their cardboard recycling and wipe counters, sweep, set out produce, transfer olive oil, clean the nut grinder - whatever those lovely people had in mind.

I love this place: its art, its smells, its organic crunchiness that is rare in our part of town.

I have felt committed to not purchasing cardboard to pack our belongings, considering I fill my car on a weekly basis with the stuff:

I highly recommend the slow and steady way of moving that involves recycling cardboard. It also budgets you to pack a little every week (if you have the time, that is).

Cristine, the manager and dear sweet person that she is, agrees as she painstakingly commits to living a life with intention, exercising all 5 R's and breaking down all the boxes each week for me to load. She may, in fact, come up with a 6th R soon...


Babs said...


Anonymous said...

I like "relocate" Smile.

yourpalamybrown said...

Have you read Barbara Kingsolver's book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle"? I just started reading it and thought of you and how you have inspired me to be more in touch with myself. Hope things are going well with the move.