I just spent an hour raking leaves from our front lawn. My daughter came out and helped. She jumped in a few leaf piles. Now she’s out riding her bike. We could have hired a landscaping contractor (so: consider how this little trade-off reflects not just our energy problems, but a rather large social issue).
Here are some benefits:
- My lawn is raked
- I got an hour of exercise
- My daughter and I spent time together
- We were outside
- The lawn got a little aeration
- There is still organic matter in the dirt
- It was quiet and peaceful and we both had fun
- No CO2 was used (except for our human energy)
- The cost was about $2 for 5 paper leaf bags
- I made human contact with several of my neighbors
- I was able to share my views with one neighbor who offered me the use of his leaf blower
- My wife is happy with me
- My daughter got revved up and is continuing to use her body and enjoy the outdoors by riding her bike
- I am looking forward to doing the back yard
- I wrote a post in this blog
My hour was healthy in many, many ways. Yet in my town, I’ll bet fewer than half the lawns are raked with a rake (even though most of the lots here are small enough to be measured in square feet, not acres). Why rake when you can hire a contractor? If you don’t know the answer to the question, take another look at the list above. Then consider why.
What is becoming more and more clear to me is that our country, and even most of the developed world is ill. We have a disorder of some sort. We expect everything to be easy. We expect everything to be fast. We trade off money for services we could do ourselves … without thinking. We use resources wildly. All the time we “save” we use to sit in front of the TV or Internet and buy stuff that we think will make us happy. It does not make us happy.
Our illness has major, major costs. It doesn’t make us happy. It doesn’t make us healthy. It is destroying our planet in so many ways. And worst of all, our patterns are now deeply ingrained societal bad habits. These habits are very hard to break; we have built a huge infrastructure to support and foster these bad habits: urban sprawl, malls, credit cards, large vehicles, cheap food, and most importantly an expectation and pride in the rightness of it all.
President Bush made a passing comment about our addiction to oil in a State of the Union address a while back. I believe we have a much larger addition to consumption. Like any addiction, it’s going to be hard to break, and painful. And also like any addition, it is terribly unhealthy and destructive. Finally, like any addiction, the addict is the last one to acknowledge and accept it.
All this from an hour of leaf raking.