Friday in Focus: Attitude

"Friday in Focus" is my weekly time to stop and reflect on the changes that I've made to live more sustainably, how I came to make those choices, and whether or not those choices are still an accurate reflection of my goals and values. It is a moment to continue in my effort to live deliberately.

Steve and I struggled a lot at the beginning of our relationship. We were two stubborn individuals who had got along quite well doing things our own way and were quite convinced that the other person needed to change to fit into our lifestyle. I'm not sure exactly when that changed or even how. It's not like we sat down and laid out a clear path to compromise. We stumbled our way there.

At this point in our lives, we are just plain happier people than we were back then. I credit this in large part to changes in our diet, but also to this indescribable "something" that clicked within us that prevents us from placing our individual wants ahead of our goals as a couple. We have become better able to see that many of the things we butt heads on are just differences in habit. Steve prefers to have the TV on as background noise. I prefer it quiet. Neither of us prefer these things in a malicious quest to annoy the other. We're just different people who have different preferences and we can find a way to both be happy. I'm sure this all sounds very basic and everyone else already has it all figured out, but coming to this realization as a couple has been amazing.

It has also helped us deal with the multitude of changes that we're making in our lives (or, maybe it's so many changes in such a short span of time that has forced us to learn to deal with one another as rational adults?). We both have visions about what we would like our lives to look like; specific in some areas and foggy in others. I know that I want to be as self-sufficient as possible, which for me means that I want to own more land and raise animals. Steve knows that he will always want and need a high speed Internet connection and doesn't want to be too far from a city. The key is realizing that these don't have to be competing interests. None of them do. Realizing this has been the single most productive thing that we have done on our road to becoming more sustainable and living deliberately. Ultimately, everything is a balancing act and by learning to strike that balance within our own family, we can be more successful in striking that balance in the bigger picture, whether that be in terms of the environment, politics, or whatever.

I think there is a danger in trying to be too "pure." In my fantasy world I am able to gather all the raw materials I need and I have all the time and skills to transform them into the things that my family needs. Not only is this not realistic in real life, I don't think it's even really desirable. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't have standards or that we shouldn't have lines across which we do not step. I won't eat factory farmed meat. That's one of my lines. Others have different lines. I hate the Voltaire quote "The perfect is the enemy of the good," but it is apt. We all have to start where we are, do the best we can with what we've got, and make compromises when necessary.

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