So this weekend I have spent a lot of time thinking. I have always desired to live as unselfishly as I can, but somehow, I feel like I still get caught up in selfishness and I often have to wonder if it possible to escape selfishness altogether, especially in this part of the world where we live and everything is about convenience.
Too often we go for the more convenient thing, rather than listen to the truth within us and what we know to be right in our hearts. A lot of times we base our decisions on what is cheapest, easiest and most comfortable. We don’t really like to have to sacrifice our comforts or take the road less traveled. We want to fit in and have a good life, we want to be happy and live a ‘normal’ life. I have found that all these factors are what have ever led me to live selfishly and I really honestly wonder how can we live unselfishly these days?
I had a great conversation with a friend this morning and we discussed some of these issues. We talked about how even sometimes when you think you are doing a really great thing, it turns out that really it may not be a great thing. Like, putting together Christmas boxes for children in other countries, but filling them with dollar store toys and candy. Toys that were made by kids in underdeveloped countries and also contain harmful toxins and cause pollution to the environment. Or how about buying all organic, in attempt to do more for the environment and support sustainability, but find that many of these organic companies have only been bought out by bigger corporations and may not even support or care about environmental sustainability at all? Really, how do you win?
I love to blog about all the good thing in life and having fun, but I still often wonder what the true cost of our comfortable, enjoyable life really is. Is it possible to escape living off of the backs of others entirely? Is it possible to really live an “Eco-friendly” life? I thought about this all weekend and actually got pretty down about it last night. I realized that in my attempt to be healthy and buy organic produce, we still have to travel to Winnipeg to purchase our groceries every week, which is costly and uses a lot of gas. I often wonder what really is the best thing to do?
Sometimes it seems easier to just want to give up and not have to think about these bigger issues at all. That is how I felt about giving up eating animals back in 2007 after I attempted to watch Earthlings for the first time. Note: attempted, I could not bring myself to watch the entire thing and often had to turn away from it. I wanted to give up meat and go vegetarian, but at that time I really had no idea how that would be at all possible. So I did what we all do when we are afraid to actually take an honest look at our lives, I just justified my meat-eating and got all defensive about it. I said to Craig “Well, it’s probably not actually like that really.” How do those vegans survive anyway? ” “They must be unhealthy and crazy.” I really tried to convince myself that it was just impossible and that this is just the way it is now. Animals are raised in factory farms and we just accept that. We need meat and if this is how we have to get it, then it must be OK.
I used my head and ignored what my heart was really speaking to me. Years went by and at the time I was taking a bible study that focused a lot on the selfishness of our culture. How everything really is all about us all the time and no one really thinks about how their individual selfishness keeps them in the dark. We are so concerned about ease and convenience, that we too often forget how blessed we really are and never need to give a thought to where our food, clothes and gas come from or have to wonder if we are living off the backs of others.
That reality hit hard, especially because at that time I was still self-obsessed and preoccupied with my appearance and my weight. I had bought into what the media had fed me for so many years, that I really was what I weighed. I feared that if I didn’t have that, then I was no good for anything. During this period of my life, I was consumed in selfishness, I was not being a good mother or a good person, but that bible study opened my eyes and really made me take a good hard look at how I was living my life.
I remember taking so many notes and really putting my heart into it. I wanted to change and I wanted to see all the areas of life that selfishness had me. Then one day I looked down at my dinner plate and I saw it. Everyday, I was being selfish, by taking the lives of animals, for the sake of my appetite. All of those feelings from years ago resurfaced and I remembered how I really truly wanted to become a vegetarian. In my heart, I knew that was something I needed to do, I realized I had only suppressed my natural compassion for so long and convinced myself it was impossible, but deep down I knew that I didn’t want to be a apart of that form of selfishness anymore.
I watched the Earthlings documentary all the way through and I watched it more than once. It was hard to watch, but I figured if it is was so hard to look at, then there must be something there that was speaking to me. I realized that the hard part was really facing my selfishness and realizing that I was not being true to myself for so long, for fear of not fitting in. After all how many vegans are there in the world? I didn’t know what I was doing, I didn’t know what I was going to eat or how I was going to live my life, but I was following my heart for the first time and letting a huge part of my selfish nature die.
That experience was the beginning for me to get in touch with who I really was and what I really believed, in spite of what the world was convincing me was true. I started focusing more on how to be more loving and selfless and I was growing happier everyday.I stopped watching T.V and spent more time in real life with my girls and falling in love with who I really was, not what I looked like in the mirror or what my weight happened to be that day.
Today, I still am on the lookout for ways to be less selfish in this culture that is obsessed with self. I try to stay healthy physically, spiritually and mentally, so I can know what are the best choices to make, but honestly, it is so difficult sometimes. So I want to buy organic produce, but that still has been flown from half way across the world to get to me. There are so many little things that get you, even when you are trying your best to be unselfish. What to do?
We often like to watch Little House On The Prairie because it reminds us how simple life used to be and also shows us how far removed we are from that simple life today. Back then, people did what they had to do. The men hunted for their meat and worked hard to make enough money to meet their family’s basic needs. The women baked bread and sewed their own clothes. There weren’t all of the extravagances, that there are today and although life was not easy, the people seemed to be much happier and have more of an appreciation for life back then. There really wasn’t any time to be selfish.
With our culture now so heavily relying on convenience, there are very few people who would even know how to grow their own food anymore and store it for the winter. Our meat is killed for us, so we never have to think about it and we don’t even know where our clothes come from. We really would be lost without our technology, but how long can things keep growing and growing? How long can we ignore the effects that our convenience is having on our health, others and our planet? It seems like we have really figured things out, but have we really? Are things really better this way or has convenience just created one big mess and moved us into a selfish way of being? Have we lost a sense of gratitude for life and all the blessing that surround us in an attempt to satisfy our continual craving for more?
Sometimes Craig and I talk about moving away and getting out of this culture altogether, but we know in our hearts that is not the right thing to do either. There has to be a way to live consciously and compassionately here and now. I think that the most important thing that we can do is find out who we are as an individual and do what we believe to be true in our hearts. We are all different and have different past experiences, upbringings and view points, but I also think that deep down all of us want to live a good life and do what is the best thing, we just aren’t even sure what that is anymore.
What I have learned is that I can’t get too serious about anything. I have an extreme personality and tend to be very dramatic and very determined, which has been both a blessing and a curse in my life. Usually, when I learn something I want to go and change overnight and am so determined to do the right thing. My heart really is in the right place, but I often take on too much too fast. When this happens, I usually end up disappointing myself and doubting myself.
Sometimes I research too much and take on too many opinions that are not really my own and I lose my truth. While it is true that you are what you eat, I also believe that you are what you put in your mind and I have become more aware of how others opinions really do affect my own. David Wolfe said in an interview that I came across that just because something is a wide held belief, doesn’t mean that it is the truth. That made me remember that you can’t believe everything you see, hear or read, but really have to discern and determine what is right for yourself and your life.
So, anyways, these are my recent thoughts. I really just want to do the right thing all the time and then I get so hard on myself when I think I am failing to do so. Like I mentioned before, my biggest fear is a fear of failure. Now I am thinking, maybe there is no failure and maybe there is no right or wrong thing to do. Maybe we are all just on a path to truth and are living and learning along the way no matter if we even realize it or not.
Although sometimes it seems like it may be easier to run away or forget about being conscious and trying to be compassionate, I know that I could never actually do that. Although it is difficult to press past selfishness and really listen to my heart, I know that it is necessary. The times in life when things are easy and comfortable are not the times when I learn and grow, it is those times when I am forced to face myself and choose to give up more of my selfish nature that I change for the better.
I’m just going to continue on my journey, putting one foot in front of the other and learn my lessons along the way.
Live and learn!