We stopped at Chipotle off of I-75 in southern Ohio on our way home from Christmas at my sister’s in Tennessee.
I had never been to a Chipotle, and I was happy to learn about their commitment to naturally raised (non-CAFO) meat.
Mostly, though, I was struck by the quotation on the cup in which I got my rootbeer, from Wes Jackson of the Land Institute:
“If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough”
Humbling sentiment, especially from a paper-ish cup at a quick serve restaurant. But, there it was, a challenge for me to align with and attempt something bigger than myself.
If you asked me my life’s work, I’d likely think for a while and mumble something like “to be of use” or to “live in harmony with the larger world”. But those are both kind of small-thinking. “To be of use” is actually kind of a cop out in its lack of specificity. It’s really just “be busy”, ” be not bored”, ” do stuff” and it is agnostic to the end result. It’s kind of soul-lessly goal-less. I’m essentially asking the universe for a lifetime of busywork. “Live in harmony” means lots of little things – I walk to work, I buy local, I buy organic, I meditate and do yoga so I’m not a freaking lunatic at least some of the time, I work on being grateful for all that I have, because I have a lot. I give to charity, I offer my service in professional societies and volunteer for my meditation community.
I knit a few things, but I could keep myself and my friends warm more efficiently by purchasing machine-made items. By meditating and supporting my meditation center, I’m investing and participating in a community of gentle folk, and I suppose that has ripples outward to the people we all interact with day-to-day, yet that seems kind of…floaty and vague. I’m a project manager by day, working to ensure our clients get search engine visibility and usability improvements to their websites so that they can succeed at their goals. I’m doing a bit of gardening, optimizing my possessions and my weight, trying to be kind to myself as well as others. But so what? So what larger thing am I building? Nothing in particular, it seems. But, it’s really all just getting by, kind of piecemeal.
We had the first day of our annual two-day strategy session at my work, and we were talking about our BHAG – big hairy audacious goal. And the option I could really get behind was to put our collective shoulder to making the Great Lakes area a model in the new economy. With all of the bad news about the auto industry and my personal hopelessness about our ecological sustainability, I am not sure what to hope for here in Michigan. So, without a clear vision, I’m not sure what to work towards.
Perhaps a near term goal would be envisioning a future I can work towards. One that doesn’t seem so broken and post-industrial and diminished.
It might seem ridiculous, but the one concrete thought I have at the moment is greening our roofs. When I have flown in a small plane over SE Michigan, I’m amazed by all of the flat black roofs we have on commercial buildings and even homes. Seems like greening that all up would be a good goal. Too small? Unrealistic? Worthy? Going to have to chew on this a while.