I’m years into my quest for less, and the more radical decluttering I do, the happier I am. There’s an urgency to it now though, that has nothing to do with the delight I find in simplicity. It’s my children. The earth is on fire, and their future is burning along with it.
Our home and community haven’t yet been directly harmed by the climate crisis, but of course it’s warmer with less predictable weather, like everywhere. I’m working on a poem (okay, I’ve been working on it for months, maybe poetry isn’t my thing) called The Air is Broken because the wind now blows the wrong way and the loons are silent at my favourite magical lake in Northern Ontario.
As we simplified at home, we naturally consumed less, drove less, and used less packaging. But we still hopped on airplanes to explore the world and to be with family – our nearest relative is over 400 km away, most are thousands, so we fly. We know the harm it’s causing.
My teenage daughter grew up on hand-me-down clothes and thrift shops, but discovered the mall last year. At her age, she should be experimenting with clothes, with her style, and fast fashion is her joy. For one of my freelance jobs, I edit material about fast fashion, and it is exceptionally destructive in too many ways to list. We know the harm it’s causing.
It’s been the happiest season of my life in recent years, and cutting back on my travel feels as painful as my daughter cutting back on her trips to the mall. But how could we not? I already have a flight booked for my annual trip to New York City – next time, will I take extra days off to take the train? Will I go less often? Stop going? Do I cancel the flight?
How radically will we change our lives now to save a chance for lives in the future? I read about extreme minimalists and wonder at the journey they took to find themselves walking so lightly upon the earth. I watch Greta Thunberg cross the Atlantic without burning fuel, and laugh at what I’ve considered “radical” in my own life. It’s time to pick up our pace, take more steps, more quickly.
It’s time to pick up our pace, take more steps, more quickly.
I’ve always dreamt of living by the ocean, and I want to find ways to stop the oceans from rising, washing away my dreams, and to give my children a chance to have their own happy seasons.