This was the book I just finished this weekend. Great read. I'd recommend it to anyone for multiple reasons.
I've discussed the premise before, but essentially this guy is chronicling a year of his life in which he attempts to have no impact, environmentally, on the planet. This means no carbon emissions (no car/airplane/train/even elevator! travel), no electricity, no trash (think of the difficulty in buying food!), amidst other things.
It's a rather funny book at times, and Melissa and I found ourselves thinking some funny things while reading(more on this tomorrow I hope). This guy starts with the idea that to be someone that constantly complains about the environment's demise, perhaps he should actually DO something instead of just commenting. I wish this were true of so many others and commend the author for his action.
It felt like essentially reading a series of blog entries, and it well may have been, but they were a fun read. He deals with questions like: Can one man really make a difference? Is the care for our planet really worth it? and probably mostly, Is it practical at all for us to happily live in such a way as to have minimal impact on the environment?
Ultimately, I think he'd say that no, one person can't have that big of an impact; though he may inspire others. He would probably also push back on the individuality of the questioner and get us all to see ourselves as more of a unified group than individuals. We can make a difference.
And what makes happiness? My favorite part of the book was his mining for what ultimately leads to happiness and fulfillment. Do we consume more and more things (trash, cars, other waste) because we truly belive it will make us more happy? Do we eat more and watch more tv because it actually does lead to a happier life? Throughout his year on the project, it seems, the answer to personal happiness is in relationship. I agree with this, to a point. The author gives no straight answer, but the hints would say that the way to find satisfaction and peace and joy in your life is to cherish better the close people in your lives. Turn the tv off, put the ipod down, talk more, play more. This is close to the mark, but still will leave us wanted, I believe. What if we find the very people we're seeking our fulfillment from are the very people bringing us the most pain? It's because of his line of thinking many young women want to have babies, or get married. Life is about relationships, they think. I just need to find the right guy, or after they find a guy and realize while he may be a fine fellow, he is not the pinnacle of creation; so, now I just need a baby! Life is about enjoying family, right? To many moms then find themselves desperately wanting. I'm not in bliss! Why isn't my husband and my baby making me the joyful, happy person they're supposed to? Maybe the problem is with them? Maybe divorce is the best option? Should I just try again?
No, tv isn't what makes us happy. Eating inordinate amounts of crappy food won't make us happy either. But I submit that neither will asking our families to be something they're not designed for give us ultimate happiness either. Yes, we should value relationship, and we should cherish our friends, but I think we're missing the bigger story. I wonder if the author is asking us to replace a few things we use to numb the pain of our lives (tv, food, etc) for another (family/close friends)?
We were created specifically, and for goodness and joy. We were told to be stewards of the earth and care for it. We abandoned the creator and forsook the earth. We went our own way in rebellion. Now we are on a constant path to try and reclaim that missing joy, that emptiness that everyone feels to some degree or another; and we look anywhere we can to fill it. All options leave us wanting except the option to return, again, to the creator. He has been ever near, never leaving. God is not distant and remote, but is active and present. He has never turned us over, but has always remained passionately close, despite our rejection. We have continually turned to other things and spit in His face, yet he remains steadfast with his lovingkindness towards us. Let us go to Him now! Let us finally throw up our hands in our seeking after worldly gain and worldly pleasure! Let us look Him in the face. In Him we find joy and peace. He will never fail us; He will never leave us. He has come to rescue His people and taken their just punishment upon himself. He has begun a new day with His new people to reclaim the earth, to be stewards once more. He sets our hearts to singing at His faithfulness and goodness. He has set the captives free! He brings peace to the brokenhearted and will wipe away every tear.
Join me in true joy!