green grass and tall trees

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Let’s just start out with cold, hard facts: the environment matters and global warming exist and is a bigger issue than we recognize it to be.

This is our home. Over the years, we have become like rebellious teens trying to create our rules that benefit only us and only caused conflict with the rest of the household. We have disposed of our trash at our ease out windows while driving onto the side of the road, into our rivers, or just left in the grass and trees because nature will take care of it. This is like piling another dish in the sink when your parents have asked you to do dishes or calling it almost when you throw a piece of trash away but it misses or leaving one dirty shirt on the floor and insisting on picking it up later when it becomes the first dirty shirt of many others.

We are cutting down trees at a faster rate than they can replenish and our actions of burning fossil fuel and completely disregarding our environment as our right to use and exploit its services and goods without accepting consequences in return is just insane to say is not an issue worth discussing or even saying is an issue.

Leaving our responsibility towards others to be the ‘bigger person’ means that we are saying that we have no responsibility for the mess we are creating of our home.

To say that this isn’t a problem because it doesn’t affect me personally is living with blinders on. The degradation of our environment means worst air conditions and water conditions that affect our health and because of this means a heavy medical bill from our pockets. The degradation of our environment affects the food we eat either from ocean acidification affecting our fish products and causing problems with livestock growing with weather irregularities because of the earth trying to heal itself from these problems. The degradation of our environment means that our home will not be able to sustain us and protect us from dangers, but instead make us sick and also hurt us.

The earth is warming up. Not just because of a cycle, but also because of our actions of deforestation, overfishing, burning fossil fuels, mass urbanization, and ignorance of consequences that is causing the earth to warm up and also cause more irregular and severe weather patterns around the world. This shouldn’t be a debate of whether it’s real or not anymore, but action in how to ease our contribution to this problem.

Maybe we have acknowledged this problem, but we haven’t really thought of it. In a first world nation especially it’s easy to think that this doesn’t affect me when we have a job or school and friends to hang out with and that new Giant Big Mac to try out. Our life and routine keep us from truly seeing this problem surrounding us and the world bigger than ours. Sure we pass by litter driving to work, but never really give it much thought but it’s trash. We should recognize that the trash shouldn’t be there and not only does it make the drive to work ugly, but it contributes to the overall pollution problem that will affect our water, air, and soil resources. However, in this first world nation I live in with others, we should be held more responsible with the established political, economic, and social power we have, oh and the knowledge we have of our world and actions. We have the knowledge and resources to look for alternative ways to live that coincides with the environment rather than aggravates it and will provide economically and socially.

As inhabitants of this home, we need to take part in keeping our home livable. We need to be aware of these problems and act towards a solution instead of debate and wait for a disaster to cause us to make us realize that there is a problem. We need to educate others and help them establish their needs rather than let them deplete their resources and further live in squalor. What we do and how we live is connected with everyone and everything else in this home. Let us live harmoniously with each other instead of conflicting with each other. It won’t be easy and it won’t be quick, but we can start now by picking up that dirty shirt or really looking at this world around us.

the American Dream 2.0

I recently watched this documentary on Netflix called ‘The Minimalist.’ It’s about these two guys who had high paying jobs and found themselves increasingly unsatisfied and stressed over the type of lives they were living. They started looking at what were making them so stressed and unhappy and saw that the root of their problems was their connection to material possessions. After this realization, they both gave up this high maintenance lifestyle and begin to live less and a life that made them happy. They gave up their many belongings and started living within a suitcase of materials and started writing about this lifestyle of less.

For a while, I had begun reflecting on my life and looking at what was making me stressed and very unhappy. I started to realize that I was unhappy for the same reasons as those two guys. I was living in an abundance of material possessions that commercials and others told me were supposed to make me happy. These things were only drowning me and making me feel as if these things were supposed to be more than what they were than just a poster or new pair of shoes. Another thing mentioned in this documentary made me think about where my priorities were in life and what distractions disguised themselves as priorities. One of the guys was in an office meeting and ignored calls and one from his mom of a cancer diagnosis. I don’t know why, but that especially made me think about where my priorities were. Were they in gaining success by owning possessions or with successful relationships and being in the moment? This question and other stress factors pushed me towards change.

I had wanted to bring great change to my life, but kept planning and didn’t know when I should do so. I had been thinking of changing for a while, but freaking stats and college work was a good excuse for me to delay acting upon it. When winter break started, I knew that I was ready.

I think one of the biggest things that make me unhappy was social media and the people I happen to know. Everyone is a hypocrite, but some people act more hypocritical than others and to see how unruly people actually were on social media while still shoving their morals on others made me upset. I didn’t see these people every day due to different paths, but I wanted to ignore these people completely by not being their friend or following them. I also didn’t want to become more like them by keeping it real and being myself. I remember this being the biggest factor in deleting my twitter a while back and now my snapchat. I told myself I didn’t have to stay connected through all these pointless social media apps, but by those I actually wanted to talk to and those who wanted to talk to me. It hasn’t bothered me at all and the people who actually care have kept in touch, and that’s good enough.

Like the Minimalist, I wanted to live less and decided that I wouldn’t spend money on any more material goods for at least a year. I live with plenty. I have a couch in my room along with a bed, dresser, two bookcases and books flooding along the walls, a desk, and closet also flooding with clothes. I don’t need anything else and decided to clean out and begin living less. I have a big book addiction and love to buy new books but realized I have lots of books and many that I’ve yet to read. To save and live like the Minimalists, I’ve decided to read all the books on my shelves, borrow them from the local libraries, and read at least an hour in Barnes of new novels. With this money, I want to save for my planned travels across the country and on experiences.

This was my first year driving. I love that it brings more independence and allows me to go more places than before. I have explored new places and new roads since getting my license. I know the backroads to avoid traffic on the highway and shortcuts to get home along with new cheaper places to eat than the ever popular Chicfila and Wendy’s. I’ve made it a goal to explore more and discover new places every day so I can experience the off beaten path and do new things. This also meant for doing more within my day. I want to live so much within a day I feel like breakfast was such a long time ago instead of 8 hours ago. Since living like this, I have been able to bring my friends to new places to hang out and able to leave my phone in my car to enjoy walks in the forest. It’s been great so far living like this.

Duke is my absolute dream school and I want to get there somehow. I really want to push myself to be like Hermione and be ahead of my readings and overall studious. This semester I’m pushing for a 4.0 and so far have emersed myself in my textbook readings. Each subject I’ve read so far is very interesting and I hope I can keep this interest as the semester continues. I don’t want to drown in school work and dedication, but I do want to make a better grade so I can get into journalism and eventually law. This is a dream in the working and hopefully will become a journey despite the obstacles and laziness and procrastination that shall come. Duke is the dream and it’s not gonna be one that only visits me in my sleep.

I also want to work towards my artistic abilities and writing. This semester I would often de-stress by sketching and painting, and saw that I really liked my artwork and how much it has improved over the years. I’ve always received praise for my artwork, but want to be better and create more pieces that make me happy. The only way is through practice and creating more, and this year I want to draw more to be satisfied with my work. I’m happy for drawing things I actually like and look nice. I hope to improve and keep the artistic flow going. Along with drawing, I want to become a better writer. I think this would mean more blog posts and also working on a novel idea I’ve had for a while. I’d love to go into journalism and eventually publish and to get there, I’m going to have to practice writing. Any artist could probably agree that there is always room for improvement and that you will never be satisfied with what you haven’t done yet.

2017 looks pretty optimistic so far in being the best me yet. I am motivated to live fuller and happier. I want to be the best I can be and happy while doing it along with my friends and family. Hopefully, by the end of this year, I can look back and think wow I can’t believe I did so much within a year. I don’t want the same regretful feeling of not doing enough. This year I want to do more and be more. By living with fewer books, clothes, shoes, and other materials, I hope I can live this new satisfied and abundant life of experiences, heartbreak, honesty, and adventure. The new American Dream isn’t working towards a house with a white picket fence and two cars in the driveway because we can afford it and that new couch for the living room and blender to make smoothies, but it is to live knowing you have good priorities and amazing experiences.

Be bold this year. Whatever you wish to accomplish you can do as long as you stay dedicated to it and make it a priority. Keep running, keep the faith, keep eating that nasty kale, keep exploring, keep moving. It’s not just a new year for a new start, but every day is a new day for that new start you’ve been putting off. This is your year, so choke it.

xx