Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My big fat carbon footprint

All my life I've had a tendency to worry over the big things. The small things I don't sweat--the things that fall into the "spilt milk" category. But what a shitload of bigger things there are to worry over, and what a lot of sources there are working hard to remind us. No wonder half of America is downing Prozac. There is even a website named "The Anxiety Center" that aids poor souls in delving through the sludge of fiction and fact of media campaigns. To listen and read news is to expose yourself to a depressing barrage of gloom and hopelessness. On any given day the alarm sounds for:

World hunger, AIDS, cancer, drug-resistant viruses, carbon emissions, ozone depletion, UV rays, global warming, overpopulation, random violence, child pornography, identity theft, the housing bubble, national debt, outsourcing, racial tensions, illegal immigration, the decline of culture, manners, and respect, the dumbing-down of education, contempt for authority, celebrity worship, Darfur, Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Islamofascism, terrorism, gasoline prices, oil dependency.....and on and on.

What's a responsible citizen supposed to do? (Hide under the covers, I say. Ha.) We live in a culture of anxiety and I see no hope for a letting up. When I was a kid in the 70's there was a national campaign against littering. An Indian in a canoe shed a tear to see America dirtied up by the careless. It was an effective campaign, in the sense that it threw consciousness on the public responsibility for the earth's welfare. The 70's were all about consciousness-raising. For everything. Heck, we were told to talk to our houseplants and be sure to leave the radio playing for them to ensure healthy growth.

For already severely conscientious kids like me, those messages worked on my anxiety. I was responsible for the future and health of everything. The world was still a small place for me. From what I understood it was limited on resources and if I didn't do something there might not be any left for me when I grew up. First, I obsessed over trash. Where did it go? How soon till we were buried in it? Through the years it was one concern after another. What about the poor animals that are killed for their fur? Save the baby seals. What about all the trees used for making paper? Save the trees. What about the polluted oceans? Save the whales.

Today maybe it's a combination of age, weariness, and mistrust that lends me to eye the current global warming campaign with skepticism. Hearing that a bunch of rock stars and celebrities gathered for a Live Earth save-the-planet fest I was unimpressed. Yawn. I'm just not too responsive to being told how bad I am, how I'm killing the earth, how I should use less toilet paper. I'm resigned to pay heavily for my over-consumption. I own a 1969 house that was built without energy conservation in mind in a suburb built when gasoline was cheap enough to commute to the city for work. I'm kinda stuck now.

I was a do-gooder once. It was anxiety provoking so I gave it up. I've tried hard to stay up to snuff with current events, but that too is proving too big an assignment. What to attend to first? What to prepare against first? Not that long ago Meryl Streep was warning me about the alar on apples. Now Madonna is shouting at me to "jump, motherfkr," if I care to save the planet. And worse, Leo DiCaprio is taking the fun out of diamonds--now that Robert can finally afford some for me.

Recently I've rediscovered some songs from Harry Nilsson that I downloaded from iTunes. Songs from my childhood, music being a respite from scolding hard news and consciousness raising guilt tripping. Harry's my new soulmate.

Everybody's talkin at me
I don't hear a word they're saying
Only the echoes of my mind.

I'm going where the sun keeps shining
through the pouring rain
going where the weather suits my clothes
banking off of the northeast wind
sailing on a summer breeze
skipping over the ocean like a stone

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