Posted by: scintillatingspeck | February 3, 2009

The very personal side of decision-making in the context of the Great Turning/Great Unraveling/Second Great Depression/whatever.

I am tempted to begin this post with a long lament about how crappy things are.  However, as I have been recently inspired by my friend Amy to focus on what I am grateful for, I will try not to give in to this impulse to wallow.  Let me start instead with a list of rays of sunshine:

  • I am so immensely grateful for my daughter Lily.  She is a fountain of love and teaches me every day to be more engaged and authentic.  Today she is 22 months old.  I am stunned by her beauty and thirst for discovery.
  • I am endlessly grateful for my husband Tom.  He is the sweetest person I have ever met and possesses unparalleled patience, kindness, warmth, and cuddliness.  He is a wonderful companion and a superlative daddy.
  • My kitty-cat Ophelia, she of the voluminous, luxurious fur, she who has never scratched the baby in 22 months, she of the placid purr.
  • My extended family who always hold me in their thoughts and love me without reserve.  And Tom’s extended family and their open-heartedness and kindness.
  • My friends and their many gifts and twinkling eyes.
  • Good food from local farms, nourishing me and my family, body and soul.
  • Shelter from the winter, a well-insulated house, a cozy wood stove, several cords of wood stacked neatly outside.
  • Functional transport (but don’t get me started about how we had to resuscitate the car several times in December and how much it cost and how much it upsets me to still be dependent on the car…)
  • Reasonably good health at the moment.

Okay, that really did help me get into a better mood!  And I only kvetched about the car.

Now I can get into the harder stuff.  I want to write a bit about how complicated it is to make decisions right now.  I do a lot of reading and thinking about peak oil, climate change, economic disruption, and shifting cultural priorities at the larger scale, but often long for more personal accounts of how people are integrating this information into their lives.  Sometimes the personal stories that make it out to a wider audience are the stories of people who have done incredibly remarkable, ambitious things, such as Sharon Astyk, or the Dervaes family, or other inspirational figures.   But I am also interested in the stories of people who are more average, like me.  People who are struggling to figure things out the best they can, imperfectly, unimpressively, in ways that would not catch widespread attention.

Right now Tom and I are trying to figure out a lot.  We have been thinking and analyzing and slumping and bumbling our way through it, rallying with bursts of energy, slinking off into disheartened passivity, and everything in between.   We are planning to move out of our cohousing community, but don’t know yet where we’re moving or with whom, nor do we know how we will swing it financially (at the moment there is no way a bank would approve us for a mortgage, for example).  We could rent, of course, but we want to move toward some sort of long-term cooperative living arrangement, and we would like to be in a more stable situation on a bit of land that we could grow food on.  We are also trying to navigate the world of work and figure out how to have livelihoods that integrate into our lives in a way that feels healthy.  We don’t want to pin all our hopes for the future on the conventional economy and yet we are still trying to operate within that economy, while attempting to transition to a very different economy.  We feel a great deal of urgency in taking action as soon as possible, and yet we don’t want to leap into a void without thinking carefully about all the implications.  This is a problem.  In the meanwhile, I continue to feel too isolated and craving more daily connection, and I am not sure how much longer I can stand it, and feel stymied in how to move forward in creating the conditions to have this basic need of mine met.

There is a lot more I want to say on this topic, but it has taken me all day, intermittently, to write this.  This is another conundrum in figuring out a way forward: not being able to focus.  Parenting a toddler is not conducive to protracted, deep contemplation.  Nor is starting my annual epic journey of doing our taxes.  But in keeping with my desire to post more frequently, I will end here and try to pick up where I left off another day.



  1. You are an amazing woman and you and yours are doing the best you know how to do. Remember those rays of sunshine, cause they are there EVERY MOMENT! We’ll talk soon!

  2. I saw Lily today at the Parent Center, what a lovely little girl she is… I would love to see the two of you soon.
    Thank you for writing again, Jen. I love to read your words, your deep thinking, and I am grateful for reading your list of what you are grateful for. Do you ever feel inclined to shut out the big bad world? It can be nice, every once in a while…

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