the TAO of CHANGE

a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

Patrick Swayze wisdom

by Tao, Carrboro

I felt a bit lost when I heard that Patrick Swayze died of cancer on Monday. We know him in the many ways of Hollywood – dancer, fighter, lover – not too many people know he was an accomplished horseman and aspiring conservationist. I recall one of his off-screen quotes:

“The way to screw up somebody’s life is to give him what he wants.”

He may have been referring to his own life as he also once said,

“…I feel like I wasted my time with stardom back in the ’80s.”

In any regard, it gives us something to think about as we consider conservation and our consumer-driven American lives. Did we get too much/too fast of what we wanted? Fast food, fast cars, big houses, big lawns, big toys…? It seems that, a long while back, we lost perspective and even our souls in the process of deciding what we thought we wanted.

Or, what we thought was “normal” to want. A friend wrote on her wall on facebook, “When did it become normal to have a $100/mo. phone bill?” That is one of many related questions of what we consider “normal” in our lives – like 100$/mo for cable tv? for an espresso habit? Gas? A study was published last year on just this topic, as summarized by Rob Walker in NY Times magazine – “How do consumers decide, in our relationship with material culture, what is “normal”? Obviously, the answers had some negative ecological consequences and, I believe, as Patrick said, “screwed up” our lives in some ways.

The reality is that defining a new normal is a painstakingly slow process. We’ve had more sustainable alternatives to most “stuff” long before green products found a significant presence in the marketplace – some people don’t “see” that which isn’t considered normal.

But, if we consciously and collectively move towards a lower-energy life – a new “normal”, I believe we can stop screwing things up – and be happier, healthier and more balanced in our lives than we are now. It may not give us everything we want at any given moment, but we may just get what we need.

3 Responses to “Patrick Swayze wisdom”

  1. phyllisdiehl Says:

    i apprciate your article today. something to think about

  2. Jolly ROger Says:

    Abso-(expletive)lutely!! I’ve struggled YEARS, trying to be NORMAL. It’s Sysiphean endeavor. It is my goal to “pare down,” life to it’s essentials. It’s like a sculptor looking at a massive piece of marble, and knowing that somewhere inside that, is “ME.” Chipping away the B.S. and baggage is a difficult and painful process, and when you finish, you may only have a heart-size rock, with perfectly smooth edges. But there you are.
    “The status quo has got to go!” might be a forward thinking mantra.

    I consider everything humans do as having a negative ecological consequence. The dilemma is where to draw the line of what is consciously acceptable to each one of us. From the plastic housing of the computer you are using right now, to the $100 Keens or Teva’s, everything is a sequence of obtaining and processing materials, transporting it back and forth, Building a mall to sell it in, driving to the store. bla bla bla you get the idea. It is only by careful consideration that any of that should be normal.

    Burning Man is an excellent exercise in re-thinking normal. A trip to a 3rd world country is also. Places where our discards become valuable commodities.

    Take an exercise in Status Quo. A moratorium on doing, getting, buying, wanting, anything; 24 hours. Once a month. Sing, meditate, write. give.

    The status quo has got to go.

  3. phyllisdiehl Says:

    all the words in this blog remind me this old saying. money does not give you happiness.

    i just heard a sermon about happiness. and things do not make you happy, its relationships that really warm your heart, give you laughter, give you comfort and sharing……hooray for relationships.

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