The ass-ish boyfriend of a very dear friend of mine recently broke up with her. “I wasted three years of my life being with him,” She said. She is almost forty and wants to build a family. Unsuccessfully.
She approached her relationship with a goal in mind: to start a family. When that didn’t work out, her time with him felt wasted because it wasn’t a great relationship. He was a solid person to build a life with, but that was about it.
That made me think: My actions for sustainability are tied to an outcome. I do them to reduce harm. Would I really want to live in 17 square meters, would I really want to eat mostly locally, would I really not fly around the world if my actions didn’t have social and ecological consequences? Honestly, I don’t think so. Some measures I took, I really do enjoy, like wearing the same dress every day. Others I don’t. That leaves me with three options:
- To find a way to enjoy what I currently don’t enjoy, e.g., I don’t enjoy not flying around the world and could find ways to enjoy creative alternatives.
- To focus on personal growth, e.g., because I don’t fly, I build my character (this is a very stoic approach).
- To feel good about doing what I know is right to do and get my satisfaction from that (à la Max Weber’s ultimate end, in which one acts in a faithful, rather than rational, manner).
I alternate between all three.
As disaster is currently as likely of an outcome as regeneration, I find it important to adopt ways of being and thinking that don’t ever make me say, “I wasted years of my life.”