I am going to try for a novel again this year. I have managed to miss the last couple of years — last year I think I got all the way up to 700 words (unofficially)!
I have a working title of “The Seventh Billion” — we’ll see where the writing takes me. The last time I finished a novel (several years ago) the theme was post-apocalyptic, having to do with climate change.
I think out my dark thoughts in writing. Or my worried thoughts. Topical or timely, or … ?
I was so distracted by the trip I took this month that I completely forgot to post for Blog Action Day (which was on October 16). So here is what I would have said, had I been less distracted, and more alert.
Food is good. Next to air and water, it’s an essential. And yet, too many people around the world, and in my own country which is known for abundance, have too little to eat.
It’s not just that they can’t afford the food, sometimes it is that food that nourishes is simply unavailable, as in many places where drought, flood and other weather problems have destroyed the crops or livestock on which people depend. It may be that there is abundant growth in the fields, but not food crops: many farms have switched to corn and other plants that are used in fuel rather than as food. And, it may be that the food that is grown locally is shipped elsewhere, around the world, so that the local people don’t have access.
Could it be that there is really too little food for our world? We just passed the 7-billion-person mark. That’s more than twice as many people now alive on earth than there were when I was born. About 1.5 billion new people since my children were born. Check out the BBC’s online app “What Number are You?” I read today that by mid-century there will be as many people just in urban areas as were in the entire world about 100 years ago. That is, to me, a startling, alarming idea. People in cities generally lack the ability to grow food at all — they must rely on outside sources, so they are more vulnerable to fluctuations in supply, and more vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers who charge premiums on the foods that are available for sale.
What can we do to provide food for more people? We are learning – too late – that when the climate changes we have very little ability to prevent weather-related crop losses. We are learning – too late – that when cropland is converted to industrial zones or suburbia it is very expensive and sometimes impossible to go back. We are learning – too late – that the more people there are on earth, the harder it is to keep fuel costs (both monetary and environmental) down, and the more expensive food and other necessities become.
We are also learning that sometimes the old ways (pre-industrial) work best: Ranchers are returning to free-range practices that restore and preserve grasslands; farmers are returning to no-till (very labor intensive) and organic farming practices which can restore and maintain soil structure and health; urban people are beginning to think about living locally, eating what is in season rather than importing foods from around the world. We are learning that good food, healthy food needs to be available from an early age, so that children learn to eat and prepare healthy food and to avoid or minimize consumption of less-healthy food. We are learning that sometimes less can be more, when we eat foods closer to their natural state without added sugars and salts we tend to be healthier.
I don’t have answers, or even any real suggestion this year. I do have a desire to make this world livable for my children and the rest of the planet. What can I do in my own life to promote healthy food for more people? When I grow food in my garden I can give some of it away to the food bank, necessary now more than at any other time in my life. When I prepare foods for my family I can use in-season, less-processed foods (which are both less expensive and healthier). When I participate in public debate about land use I can advocate for both open spaces and public gardens so more people can grow part of their own food. I can support organizations that help people in weather-stricken areas to eat for now and reclaim their croplands as soon as possible.
I can do little things. If we all do little things, together, we can make a big difference in the health of the rest of the world.
A little poetry post from several years ago, led me to remember this website: Zoppa.com The links on that page take you to a series of old poems with woodblock illustrations.
And here is a repost of a post from my blogspot page in 2007:
This poem by Eleanor Farjeon beautifully expresses how I feel. Sure, I could spend more energy trying to get it all done…. but that would leave no time for dreaming.
There Isn’t Time
There isn’t time, there isn’t time
To do the things I want to do,
With all the mountain-tops to climb,
And all the woods to wander through,
And all the seas to sail upon,
And everywhere there is to go,
And all the people, every one
Who lives upon the earth, to know.
There’s only time, there’s only time
To know a few, and do a few,
And then sit down and make a rhyme
About the rest I want to do.
And if my half-dozen readers aren’t “a little bit” I don’t know what is!
I was alerted to a pressing need for a bone marrow donor through Seth Godin’s blog.
Here is the post that caught my attention: Eliminating the impulse to stall.
And here is the website for Amit Gupta who desperately needs a donor.
If this finds a donor for Amit, or raises awareness of the pressing need for donors of all kinds, then my blog has done its job today.
Amit found a donor and has had the surgery. Now he needs to recover and get used to being healthy again. I hope the transplant “takes” and that Amit will have a long and happy life.
Feeling a little or a lot sentimental this evening, I am thinking about what it’s all about.
If life isn’t about (and for) doing good, even great, things, then I am barking up the wrong tree.
So, what is great, or even good? Does it mean becoming someone like Steve Jobs? He was apparently so enamored of his own greatness, or at least genius, that he rarely ever listened to others. He was certainly no great philanthropist. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to remember or imagine what life was like before the Apple products changed personal computing and communications. He opened up the world to so many people.
I think, though, that genius is not as important as love. It’s what motivates, stirs the imagination, and helps people persevere through the most difficult times. Love gets the tired parent up in the middle of the night to tend to an ill child, prompts one spouse to work longer or harder so the other can rest, inspires a stranger to reach out to help another. The list is long, the tasks whether small or large are powerful, and the results are often miraculous.
It’s what gets us through times of loss, which I am sure the Jobs family is experiencing, and what many others who knew him or followed his journey will go through as the reality, the finality, of his death hits. Loss is a motivator, too — wanting to make a difference before it’s too late, to leave something behind. But what?
For me, it’s about learning, but not selfish, sponge learning. It’s about learning that allows people to do or be better than they were. To learn to write in order to communicate. To learn to listen in order to hear. To learn to consider, to weigh evidence, to explore. To learn to get along even while standing up for those non-negotiable issues and projects that light up our lives. We learn, and then we do. We learn, and we become. We learn and our lives, and the lives of those around us, are made better.
What’s it all about?
It’s about living, in the best ways we can, each of us becoming great in ways small or big.
Carpe diem. Each, and every day.